2017 in Review

At the beginning of the year, I like to review and compare the prior year’s activity with other years. In addition, since there have been so many new hires at NOPD, it always helps to give some context to the system that most officers don’t come into contact with often enough to be familiar with.

The FOP continues to provide the best legal assistance for law enforcement officers through its Legal Defense Plan. The Legal Defense Plan offers its members legal representation for any administrative disciplinary proceeding, civil defense resulting from on-the-job actions, and criminal allegations. There is no judgment involved. If a member requests legal services, they get it.

There is no situation which is too big or too small. The Legal Plan is set up to be able to handle situations that garner national attention. At the same time, we recognize how much law enforcement officers value their service record and we treat the most minor of circumstances with the same attention.

It is most beneficial to everyone when an officer who finds themselves involved in any way in one of the covered types of events contacts us as early as possible. I got a call from someone recently who had resigned under pressure to do so and felt like it shouldn’t have gone that way. I can’t argue with that – I don’t think anyone should be pressured into resigning without at least having the opportunity to meet with counsel. However, this person didn’t call until after he had resigned. As much as I would have loved to be able to help, the act of resigning eliminates almost every avenue of redress. So, call early and stay in touch.

My brother-in-Law, Corey Lloyd, was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 2017. He had been helping me with Civil Service appeals while he was in law school. Since he is now a certified member of the Bar, he is now available to assist in situations which call for more than one attorney or when calendar conflicts prevent me from being somewhere. It is always nice to have another attorney committed to helping FOP members. He has also been helping FOP members with Family Law issues. The FOP offers a $400 (4 hrs at $100/hr) benefit per year to each member for Family Law issues.

2017

In 2017, I represented 410 individual officers in one capacity of another. That is up a little from 2016’s 398 officers. For those 410 officers, I appeared with FOP members at:

  • 103 disciplinary hearings (up from 83 in 2016)
  • 251 Statements (up from 228 in 2016)
  • 102 Civil Service Extension Request Hearings
  • 17 Accident Review Board Hearings (down from 36 in 2016)
  • 13 Civil Service Appeal Hearings (down from 23 in 2016)
  • 2 Officer Involved Shootings

In addition, I assisted FOP members with:

  • 85 Notary Service
  • 31 Personal Legal Needs
  • 10 Negotiated Settlements

While it appears that complaints were down a little from 2016-2017, it was still a busy year. Improvements were made to the disciplinary system in the penalty matrix and the use of BWC’s to clear complaints. Civil Service appeal hearings are down primarily because more Civil Service appeals were settled amicably before a hearing was necessary. The Personal Legal category refers to legal needs of members that are not covered by the Legal Defense Plan. The FOP offers each member a benefit of 2 hours of legal services per year for things outside of the Legal Defense Plan. This might include wills, living wills, successions, etc. It is separate from the Family Law benefit. Notary services are available to FOP members at no cost. I also continue to serve as Employee Representative for Crescent City Lodge members, helping them to address almost any employment related issues with NOPD.

At Livaccari Law, we also represent officers who have been involved in automobile or motorcycle accidents on a regular basis. My father, Tony Livaccari, heads up that aspect of the practice with more than 30 years of experience. Anyone who has worked with Tony knows that he looks out for FOP members.

I cannot stress enough the importance of picking up the phone and calling. I will respond to the scene of officer involved shootings. We can’t help when we don’t know a member is in need of help. In addition, as noted above, sometimes things happen which preclude our helping in any meaningful way. So, as I stated above, call early on. Nothing is too trivial and I’m not too busy to talk, even if I have to call you back – you can always text.

As I have stated numerous times, I feel as though I am blessed to be able to represent FOP members. I was admitted to the Louisiana Bar after serving 11 years with NOPD. I started representing law enforcement officers, primarily in New Orleans, in 2008 when I retired from NOPD. I still spend the majority of my time representing NOPD members. I do represent FOP members in other jurisdictions in Louisiana and do work for both the Crescent City Lodge and the Louisiana State Lodge. I look forward to doing more of the same in 2018. Additionally, the addition of Corey Lloyd to available counsel will make it easier to do this job better. So, thank you to the FOP Crescent City Lodge, particularly Jimmy Gallagher, who got me involved with the FOP back in 2004. Thanks to Darrell Basco, President of the Louisiana FOP, for allowing me to represent the over 6,000 FOP members in Louisiana. Finally, thanks to you, the FOP members for keeping me on your speed dial.

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FOP Legal Plan Primer

The Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police provides its members with an outstanding legal plan.  The FOP Legal Plan provides an attorney to any member who is the subject of an administrative or criminal investigation.  It will also provide an attorney if you become the defendant in a civil law suit arising out of the course and scope of your employment.  But wait, there’s more. . .

Fraternal Order of Police

Fraternal Order of Police (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The FOP Legal Plan will also provide you with an attorney if you are a witness in an administrative or criminal investigation.  The FOP Legal Plan will provide you with an attorney if you become the subject of an administrative or criminal investigation because of an incident that occurred while you were off-duty.

The FOP Legal Plan will provide you with an attorney for any Civil Service appeals or other Civil Service matters.  If the matter warrants action beyond the Civil Service Commission, the FOP Legal Plan will provide an attorney for appeals through the court system.

The FOP Legal Plan provides complimentary notary services.  The FOP Legal Plan will pay for the first two hours of legal services for ANY personal legal matter.

Finally, the FOP Legal Plan will reimburse you for up to five suspension days if you choose not to appeal (you have to be represented by an FOP attorney to qualify).

These are benefits you pay for every other week by payroll deduction.  You should take advantage of these benefits.

**PLEASE NOTE that the above specifically relates to the FOP Legal Plan as administered by Crescent City Lodge #2.  Certain benefits, such as the two hours on any personal legal matter, are not available through the National Legal Plan and may not be available to members employed by agencies other than the New Orleans Police Department.  If you have any questions and are not employed by the New Orleans Police Department, please call me or the FOP Legal Plan at 1-800-341-6038.

What types of investigations should I call about?

Any type of investigation.

People frequently tell me that they did not call, or were not sure if they should call, because the investigation seemed minor.  It is as if somehow this minor investigation would be an imposition on the attorney.  Nonsense.  Wouldn’t you use your health insurance for the most minor appointment with your doctor?

In addition, you need to be represented by an FOP attorney in order to qualify for the Salary Reimbursement Option (SRO).  You don’t need to have “something to worry about” in order to call.

When should I call?

Immediately.  You should call as soon as you learn that you are either an accused or witness in an administrative or criminal investigation.

You should also call if you receive a letter from Civil Service about the department’s request for an extension of time.

Also, it is almost never too late to call.  Just because you didn’t have an attorney when you made a statement doesn’t mean you don’t get an attorney for the disciplinary hearing or the Civil Service appeal.

Finally, you should call if you have any question about an investigation or the process of conducting these investigations.

Who should I call?

If you know one of the FOP attorneys, you can call that person directly.  If you do not know who to call, you can call Jim Gallagher at 504-442-4050.  You can contact me directly by email, phone, or text.