We appreciate Mayor Cantrell’s move to exclude public safety employees from the unpaid furlough days at the beginning of 2021. Hopefully, it will not be necessary to reinstitute unpaid furlough days as a result of COVID-19 (or anything else for that matter). However, there are always officers getting to retire after years and years of service.
For those officers who are preparing to retire, or who may have already submitted paperwork to begin the process of retirement, please be aware that the six (6) unpaid furlough days you have already taken do not count toward your retirement. If you are planning on retiring with 30 years and 0 days, you will be 6 days short. These unpair furlough days are treated like suspension days or LWOP days.
Make sure that you contact LaMPERS to get a correct accounting of creditable pension time before retiring. The pension folks can also be reached by telephone at (800) 443-4248 or (225) 929-7411.
We visit every NOPD Academy class and explain to them, to the best of our ability subject to time restraints, why the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan is not only necessary for today’s law enforcement professionals, but the best possible legal plan available. There are other legal plans that offer legal services, but none of those are specifically geared to law enforcement officers like the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan is. Furthermore, I can give you all a run down of the legal services I provided to FOP members in Louisiana, but I cannot speak for anyone else. In addition, my practice involves representing police officers. That is it. 100% of my legal practice is representing FOP members.
Being able to devote my entire practice to representing FOP members is a benefit to FOP members for a number of reasons. First of all, I am generally available on short notice. If I am not available for some reason, I can get things rescheduled. Devoting my entire practice to representing FOP members also allows me to be, and remain, well-versed in issues facing today’s law enforcement professionals. I do not know any other attorneys in Louisiana who can say they only represent police officers.
In 2020, I represented more than 400 individual FOP members in the following capacitates:
I responded personally to 6 officer-involved shooting scenes and represented 20 police officers involved in officer-involved shootings in Louisiana, including interviews and statements with investigators. Most of these were in New Orleans, but there were several in other jurisdictions in southwest Louisiana.
2020 has been an odd year. I know I am not saying anything people do not already know. There were fewer appeals to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, I am currently awaiting decisions from the 4th Circuit on the emergency rate of pay and one Civil Service appeal where the appeal was granted in part and denied in part by the Civil Service Commission (I won 45 of 80 suspension days and had to appeal for the other 35).
The FOP’s Legal Defense Plan is the only plan to offer the Salary Reimbursement Option. If you are represented by an FOP attorney and, after consulting with your FOP attorney you come to the conclusion that there is no point in appealing discipline, the FOP will pay the officer for up to 5 suspension days if they choose not to appeal. I assisted 27 NOPD officers with the Salary Reimbursement Option.
In New Orleans, the Crescent City Lodge provides members with free notary services. I provided notary services to 46 NOPD officers over the course of 2020. I also settled 16 Civil Service appeals with the City in lieu of proceeding with an appeal hearing. Those are 16 disciplinary actions rescinded or reduced for my clients.
I also had the opportunity to assist Louisiana FOP President Darrell Basco with his work on various committees in the Louisiana Legislature. I was called upon by the police reform committee to testify at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge about Louisiana’s Police Officer’s Bill of Rights.
Hopefully 2021 will look more like 2019 than 2020. One thing that is certain — The FOP Legal Defense Plan will be there for you when you need it. I will be there when you need me. I always have people tell me they don’t want to bother me with something minor or they don’t want to waste my time.
Nothing is a waste of my time. Nothing is unimportant. Don’t hesitate to call. It does not matter if you are an accused or a witness officer. You can call if you just have a question. I am here to help as much as I can. Furthermore, the FOP will be there for you.
Please note that my phone service now silences phone calls from numbers not in my contact book. I save phone numbers regularly. So, if we spoke on the phone previously, then I probably saved the number and that won’t be an issue. However, if you call and it goes to voicemail, please leave a message or send a text. I am not dodging anyone, but I can’t call anyone back if I don’t know who is calling.
I am looking forward to continuing to serve FOP members in 2021 and beyond. As I have said numerous times, I consider myself lucky to be able to be there for law enforcement officers and blessed to have the FOP Legal Defense Plan to use for that purpose.
PLEASE SEE THE BELOW MESSAGE FROM TIGER FOLKS. If you are in one of the jurisdictions covered by Non-Chief District 2 (see the below message from Tiger), please vote for Tiger. We need people like Tiger representing the active members of the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System.
Brothers and Sisters,
Today I come to you as a candidate for the Non-Chief District 2 trustee seat on the Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System (MPERS) Board. I have been in law enforcement for over 35 years and have the privilege of serving on the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police Executive Board for the last 10 years, currently as 2nd Vice President. I have dedicated my life to law enforcement and will do the same for you as MPERS Board Member. I will work diligently to protect your retirement and will make myself available to answer your questions.
If you are an active member of District 2 MPERS you will receive a postcard on or about November 25, 2020, which will have a link and a QR Code, similar to the one in the photo. Please take a few minutes and cast your vote.
Sgt. James “Tiger” Folks
Franklinton Police Department
2nd Vice President – Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police
President – Corbett W. Penton, Lodge #47
District 2 includes the municipalities in the following parishes Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Calcasieu, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Livingston, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Vermillion, Washington, and West Baton Rouge.
If you haven’t read the prior article on Monday’s Civil Service Commission meeting, click here and read it. In that article, I composed 3 comment cards and encouraged everyone to email a comment card to CSNO@NOLA.GOV. You can use one of the comment cards I made, or write your own. Just make sure you do it. It is important, even though it is not likely that this Commission will deny the Administration’s request.
In this article, I have included 4 more comment cards for NOPD and NOFD employees to choose from.
Click here to download Comment 6. Comment 6 is for an NOPD employee willing to say that this may be the last straw and urges the Commission to do the right thing and look out for its employees.
Click here to download Comment 7. Comment 7 is for an NOFD employee willing to say that this may be the last straw and urges the Commission to do the right thing and look out for its employees.
The Civil Service Commission meeting starts the docket portion at 10:00 a.m. and the business meeting at 11:30 a.m on Monday. Comment cards must be submitted before then. Instructions for “attending” the virtual meeting can be found in yesterday’s article (Click Here).
On Monday, November 16, 2020 at 11:30 a.m., the New Orleans Civil Service Commission will hold its monthly meeting. Because of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions, the meeting will be held on Zoom and by teleconference for those who do not have access to a computer.
As I mentioned at the latest Fraternal Order of Police meeting, it would be helpful to have as many comment cards submitted as possible. To be safe, I would recommend emailing the comment card by the end of November 15, 2020.
To join the meeting from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, or Android, click here.
To join the meeting by telephone, call 1-213-787-0529 and enter conference code 888712.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell has announced that every city employee is required to take one unpaid leave day for the last 6 pay periods of 2020. Mayor Cantrell has also announced her intention to require every city employee, including public safety agencies such as NOPD and NOFD to take one unpaid leave day for each of the 26 pay periods in 2021.
New Orleans Civil Service Rule XII, Sec. 9.1(b) requires that the Mayor get authorization from the New Orleans Civil Service Commission in order to make employees take more than 12 unpaid leave days in any consecutive 12 month period. Approval by the Civil Service Commission requires the Mayor to demonstrate extraordinary circumstances.
The Civil Service Commission will take comments from those interested in commenting. I have drafted three general comment cards. If you choose to use one of my comment cards, you will still be required to fill in the blanks on page 1. I have filled in the blanks that are common for everyone, but you have to put your own name on it.
Once you have decided on one of the pre-written comment cards or have completed a comment card yourself, you need to email it to CSNO@NOLA.GOV. If you do not email the comment card in, it will not be read.
By now, everyone is aware that there will be mandatory furloughs of personnel through the end of the year. There are 6 pay cycles starting on October 11 and ending on January 2, 2020. Everyone will be required take one unpaid furlough day in addition to your regular AWP days per 2-week pay cycle. There should be no need to take any more than 6 unpaid furlough days before the end of the year.
I was asked if officers were forbidden from scheduling their furlough day to coincide with AWP days or annual leave days. I was told there is no Department regulation or directive that would not allow taking annual the day before and the day after your scheduled furlough day. If you are AWP on Wednesday and Thursday, nothing prevents your furlough day from being Friday or Tuesday.
However, it is possible that your commander could implement a district directive to that effect. Or maybe your supervisors can’t make the schedule work like that, but it isn’t because of some department-wide directive.
There have been rumors about pay cuts, forced retirements, and all kinds of other unpleasant personnel actions. I am sure that all of those things are on the table. There are somethings the City can’t control. For example, your pension is a state pension. So, that money cannot be used elsewhere. That being said, your pension is the only benefit that will be impacted adversely by the furlough days. By the end of the year, you will be 6 days behind. Otherwise, your benefits will not be affected.
There was a special meeting of the New Orleans Civil Service Commission today (10/8/20). The only item on the agenda was the City’s request to waive the time delays found in Rule XII, Section 9. It does not impact the actual furlough of employees, just how quickly they can implement the furloughs. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Commission voted to give the City Administration the waivers they were asking for.
I, on behalf of the FOP, have been working with Aaron Mischler of the New Orleans Firefighter’s Union to find a solution to the mandatory furloughs. Right now, this is looking like a promising exercise. However, there are no guarantees and it isn’t done until its done.
The FOP is working hard on your behalf and we will not stop. There are no guarantees, except that the FOP will be working hard on your behalf.
On August 18, 2020, N.O.P.D. Sergeant Kevin Seuzeneau sent an NOPDALL email reminding everyone about N.O.P.D. Rule 2, Moral Conduct, Paragraph 1, Adherence to Law. Why would he do that? Doesn’t everyone already know that police officers have to comply with the law? Sure we do.
Sgt. Seuzeneau also reminds everyone that there will be a department-wide inspection coming soon. He follows that up with some municipal traffic ordinances police officers in New Orleans are also familiar with. There are probably plenty of officers who have never experienced a department-wide inspection while employed by NOPD, but this is a good time to prepare.
Sgt. Seuzeneau included the municipal ordinances on driver’s licenses, vehicle registration, license plates, etc. These ordinances are included because these are the things they will be checking. You will likely be asked to produce your driver’s license. They will also check to make sure those licenses are valid. Is your driver’s license suspended because of a dispute with the State of Louisiana over taxes? That is a sustained violation. No license on person? Sustained.
They will also check the cars out in the parking lot. The cars should have license plates affixed to the rear number – not on the rear deck. The registration should be readily available. The brake tag should be valid and there should be valid insurance.
All of these potentially sustained violations are avoidable. Take Sgt. Seuzeneau’s advice and use his email as a checklist. It is not worth the hassle of being sustained for R2P1. If it happens, feel free to call me.
Will Aitchison is an attorney in Portland, Oregon. Will has been involved in representing police officers, police organizations, as well as cities and police departments. Recently, Will published a podcast titled “Ten Rules for Police Officer Social Media Posts.” You can listen to the podcast by clicking here. Will’s 10 rules are worth sharing. Here they are:
Your 1st Amendment rights are limited. You are not going to win by relying on your 1st Amendment rights.
Just because something is an internet meme does not mean you should repost it. If you repost it, then you own it. It is the same as if it came straight from your mouth.
Nothing you post is private. While you should check your privacy settings, anything can be forwarded or screen-shotted.
Before you post, ask yourself “How will my employer react to this post?” If the answer is that they will be annoyed or it will lead to an investigation or discipline, then you should ask yourself if it is worth it. I think if you have to ask if it is worth it, just don’t do it.
Confine posts to purely positive posts — posts that don’t have anything to do with the current law enforcement environment.
Will says if you are in doubt about a post, wait 24 hours – sleep on it. Or you can ask a respected senior officer what they think. Again, I say if you are in doubt, don’t post it.
Think – Who are your online “friends?” Are they a tight-knit group? Or do you have “friends” who live on the other side of the country that you do not know? This relates to #3. Nothing is private.
Can someone figure out that you are a police officer from your profile or some other source? If so, you will be treated as if you posted as a police officer.
Brady says any evidence of discriminatory conduct or bias must be turned over to the defense. Is your post evidence of discriminatory conduct or bias?
Before you post or comment, think about your safety and the safety of your job, family, etc. People will find you.
There have been a couple of disciplinary cases here in New Orleans. These are cases that can be prevented. Think before you click post.
Listen to my discussion with Tommy Tucker on WWL radio this morning regarding the Emergency Rate of Pay:
Listen to Aaron MIschler’s discussion with Tommy Tucker on WWL radio this morning regarding the Emergency Rate of Pay. Aaron Mischler is President of IAFF Local 632 – the Firefighter’s Union. Aaron has been a good partner in seeking the Emergency Rate of Pay.
On May 26 the Civil Service Commission met to consider my request on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police that NOPD officers be paid the Emergency Rate of Pay. On March 25 and April 13, I submitted correspondence to the Civil Service Department and the Civil Service Commission regarding the application of New Orleans Civil Service Rule IV, Section 11.1. You can review the arguments here and here. The issue was initially scheduled to come before the Civil Service Commission at a meeting on May 18. That meeting was rescheduled to May 26.
First, I want to thank everyone who submitted a comment form. All of the comment forms were read into the record during the meeting. The Civil Service Staff read more than 20 comment forms, all in favor of granting the emergency pay.
The meeting was conducted using Zoom. At the Zoom meeting, I was allowed to make comments. You can see my comments here. Once I read my comments into the record, Assistant City Attorney William Goforth made comments on behalf of the City. Basically, the City’s position was that the Mayor did not request that only essential employees report to work as required by Civil Service Rule IV, Sec. 11.1. Mr. Goforth’s argument was that the city was still open for business and that employees working at home — there were essential and non-essential employees who had to report to work. Therefore, Rule 4, Art. 11.1 did not apply. Essentially, their argument was that since there were employees working from home it was not just essential employees reporting to work.
My response to that was that the definition of essential employees was a fluid one based on what was actually happening. There were some employees who were required to work and some employees who were not required to work and paid their salary with civil leave. The only question in my mind is whether those employees working at home were essential employees or not. I think they are not. I think that reporting to work means that an employee reports to a specific location at a specific time. I do not think that includes the employee’s home. However, if the City thinks those people are essential employees, it just increases the number of people eligible for the emergency rate of pay.
The Civil Service Commission voted to deny the request for the emergency rate of pay. It is disappointing that they voted that way. After they voted, I requested that the Commission make note of my intent to seek a writ on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police. My intention is to take the issue to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal once I have received a written decision from the Commission.