The Sewerage & Water Board, the New Orleans Civil Service Commission, and the Media Attention

The following is the entirety of my post regarding the NOLA.COM story entitled Sewerage & Water Board, not Civil Service, to blame for hiring delays.

The Civil Service Commission Chairman is right that the Sewerage & Water Board asked that the ability to hire people be delegated to the Sewerage & Water Board. At that time, I stood up and argued against that delegation on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police. It was not that the request to delegate that authority directly impacted the police department, but that it adversely impacted the civil service system in general.

The Civil Service Commission Chairman correctly states that the Sewerage & Water Board has failed in hiring new people, not the Civil Service Department. What she fails to state is that in spite of these failures, the Civil Service Commission has not revoked that delegation of authority and continues to facilitate weakening Civil Service.

As the article points out, the Landrieu administration has attempted to “reform” the Civil Service Commission since 2010. The “reforms” they have instituted are antithetical to the purpose and goals of the Civil Service system. The Civil Service Commission has been complicit in these “reforms” since Mayor Landrieu began replacing Commissioners on the Civil Service Commission with people who are inclined to give the Mayor what he wanted in spite of the basic tenets of any merit-based system of employment.

As I stated above, I argued against delegating hiring authority to the Sewerage & Water Board. What they have done is reduce funding and staffing for the Civil Service Department and then complain about how the Civil Service Department is unable to meet the needs of various departments and then used this to justify decimating the Civil Service system in New Orleans. The other “reforms” the Landrieu administration and the Civil Service Commission have implemented are as much of a failure as the Sewerage & Water Board hiring delegation. Unfortunately, those failures do not result in street flooding or maybe they would have gotten some media attention. So, while we are on the subject of Civil Service, let’s talk about some other stuff.

The Mayor’s Great Place to Work Initiative, which was the greatest part of the “reforms” implemented by Landrieu, changed the way promotions were made. In effect, employees seeking a promotion take a test and all persons who pass the test are eligible to be promoted. Unfortunately, Louisiana Constitution Article X, Section 7 reads as follows:

“Permanent appointments and promotions in the classified state and city service shall be made only after certification by the appropriate department of civil service under a general system based upon merit, efficiency, fitness, and length of service, as ascertained by examination which, so far as practical, shall be competitive. The number to be certified shall not be less than three; however, if more than one vacancy is to be filled, the name of one additional eligible for each vacancy may be certified. Each commission shall adopt rules for the method of certifying persons eligible for appointment, promotion, reemployment, and reinstatement and shall provide for appointments defined as emergency and temporary appointments if certification is not required.

Promotions under the Great Place to Work are not competitive and the test is not used to determine merit, efficiency, fitness, or length of service, as the Constitution requires. In addition to these recently acquired deficiencies, the Civil Service Rules on promotions prior to the Great Place to Work Initiative were the product of a consent decree in the matter of Larry Williams v. City of New Orleans, 725 F2d 1554 (5th Cir. 1984). The consent decree in the Williams case set out to eliminate discrimination in the promotional process.

The Williams consent decree developed the use of banding test scores to allow the NOPD greater flexibility in choosing promotional candidates to ensure racial equity while maintaining the Louisiana Constitution’s requirements of assessing merit, efficiency, fitness, and length of service through competitive testing. In addition the usage of banding allowed the Civil Service to reduce the error inherent in testing, making test results more accurate. The Williams consent decree, and the resultant banding system, was the result of a number of expert psychometricians and experts from other relevant fields under the oversight of a federal judge. The Great Place to Work Initiative undid the changes implemented by the those experts via the Williams consent decree. The Great Place to Work Initiative re-opened the door to discrimination, favoritism, nepotism, and other ism’s. The Great Place to Work Initiative was not compiled by experts in the field, but it negated changes that were made by experts.

The Great Place to Work Initiative has also led to morale problems. Employees are now uncertain about what it takes to get promoted. Given that uncertainty, it is nearly impossible to resist the conclusion that promotions are being made on the basis of who you know instead of what you know or your ability to perform the job. None of this inspires confidence in the system or the department’s leadership.

In addition to the changes made to the promotional system, the Civil Service Commission has recently added 16 unclassified positions to the New Orleans Police Department. These 16 unclassified positions were previously held by classified employees. The Civil Service Commission approved this request in spite of objections by the Civil Service Department and arguments presented by myself and others. Simply put, the addition of these unclassified positions was contrary to the Civil Service Rules and the underlying notion of the merit-based system of employment. Unclassified positions are the exception to the rule and the addition of these unclassified system effectively denies classified employees a promotional opportunity because they have effectively replaced the classified position of Police Captain.

This just skims the surface of what is wrong with the Civil Service Commission now and the problems caused by the Great Place to Work Initiative. The New Orleans Fire Department has experienced many of the same problems as the NOPD. I am sure there are issues I am unaware of. Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin, CAO at the time, once told me that the Civil Service Department was too overly concerned with fairness. Maybe in private enterprise an employer can place other things ahead of fairness. However, in public service, fairness is the cornerstone of a healthy Civil Service system.

The Civil Service Commission was right to point the finger at the Sewerage & Water Board regarding these hiring problems. But, the Civil Service Commission needs to look a little closer to home regarding the Great Place to Work Initiative. Maybe they can avert the inevitable disaster that will result from this wanton destruction of the Civil Service Rules.

The Great Place to Work Initiative needs to be repealed. There is nothing wrong with implementing changes to improve the efficiency of the Civil Service Department. However, wholesale changes to a system which was the biggest reform to public service this country has ever seen is a tremendous mistake — a mistake which has already been made.

Donovan Livaccari, Spokesman
Fraternal Order of Police
Crescent City Lodge #2

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Hate Crimes and the Blue Lives Matter Law

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In the 2016 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature, La. R.S. 14:107.2 was revised to amend paragraph A and add paragraph E via Act No. 184, H.B. 953 by Representative Lance Harris.  The change to paragraph A added the following phrase “or because of actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel” to the motivations which can qualify a crime as a hate crime.  Paragraph E included definitions of emergency medical services personnel, firefighter, and law enforcement officer.  For the purposes of this discussion, law enforcement officer is defined as follows:

“an active or retired city, parish, or state law enforcement officer, peace officer, sheriff, deputy sheriff, probation or parole officer, marshal, deputy, wildlife enforcement agent, state correctional officer, or commissioned agent of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, as well as a federal law enforcement officer or employee, whose permanent duties include making arrests, performing search and seizures, execution fo criminal arrest warrants, execution of civil seizure warrants, any civil functions performed by sheriffs or deputy sheriffs, enforcement of penal or traffic laws, or the care, custody, control, or supervision of inmates.”

There have been a few missteps in the application of this law.  On September 5, 2016, the perpetrator of criminal damage to a French Quarter hotel was charged with violating La. R.S. 14:107.2 based on racial and gender slurs used against the arresting officer.  On October 26, 2016, another individual was charged with violating La. R.S. 14:107.2 with the underlying crime being terrorizing when he told the 911 operator that “he was going to shoot and kill any officer that responded to the call.”  Neither of these charges made it very far.  The charge was refused by the District Attorney in the September 5, 2016 case and the Magistrate dismissed the hate crime charge and the terrorizing charge in the September 5, 2016 case, opting for La. R.S. 14:59, criminal mischief, instead.

What constitutes a hate crime?

As with any other crime, La. R.S. 14:107.2 hate crimes, has necessary elements that must be met.  The law reads as follows:

It shall be unlawful for any person to select the victim of the following offenses against person and property because of actual or perceived race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry of that person or the owner or occupant of that property or because of actual or perceived membership or service in, or employment with, an organization, or because of actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel: first or second degree murder; manslaughter; battery; aggravated battery; second degree battery; aggravated assault with a firearm; terrorizing; mingling harmful substances; simple or third degree rape, forcible or second degree rape, or aggravated or first degree rape; sexual battery, second degree sexual battery; oral sexual battery; carnal knowledge of a juvenile; indecent behavior with juveniles; molestation of a juvenile or a person with a physical or mental disability; simple, second degree, or aggravated kidnapping; simple or aggravated arson; communicating of false information of planned arson; simple or aggravated criminal damage to property; contamination of water supplies; simple or aggravated burglary; criminal trespass; simple, first degree, or armed robbery; purse snatching; extortion; theft; desecration of graves; institutional vandalism; or assault by drive-by shooting.

Therefore, the elements of the crime are:

  1. A person
  2. must select a victim
  3. of one of the enumerated offenses
  4. because of
    1. actual or perceived race, or
    2. age, or
    3. gender, or
    4. religion, or
    5. color, or
    6. creed, or
    7. disability, or
    8. sexual orientation, or
    9. national origin, or
    10. ancestry of that person or the owner or occupant of that property, or
    11. actual or perceived membership or service in, or employment with, an organization, or
    12. because of actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel.
  5. The enumerated crimes are:
    1. first or second degree murder, or
    2. manslaughter, or
    3. battery, or
    4. aggravated battery, or
    5. second degree battery, or
    6. aggravated assault with a firearm, or
    7. terrorizing, or
    8. mingling harmful substances, or
    9. simple or third degree rape, or
    10. forcible or second degree rape, or
    11. aggravated or first degree rape, or
    12. sexual battery, or
    13. second degree sexual battery, or
    14. oral sexual battery, or
    15. carnal knowledge of a juvenile, or
    16. indecent behavior with juveniles, or
    17. molestation of a juvenile or a person with physical or mental disability, or
    18. simple or aggravated criminal damage to property, or
    19. contamination of water supplies, or
    20. simple or aggravated burglary, or
    21. criminal trespass, or
    22. simple, first degree, or armed robbery, or
    23. purse snatching, or
    24. extortion, or
    25. theft, or
    26. desecration of graves, or
    27. institutional vandalism, or
    28. assault by drive-by shooting.

This law is, by necessity, a specific intent crime.  Violation of La. R.S. 14:107.2 results in an additional penalty that runs consecutively with the underlying offense.  So, in order to charge someone with a violation of La. R.S. 14:107.2, the officer must have probable cause to believe that the offender violated the underlying offense and then that they selected the victim of the crime based on the reasons listed in the statute (4(a)-4(l) above).

It is not enough that the victim has specific traits or associations.  The victim must be chosen for that reason.  In the September 5, 2016 incident, the offender allegedly committed the crime of simple criminal damage to property by breaking some windows at the Royal Sonesta hotel in New Orleans’s French Quarter.  The offender also made some racially offensive comments to a security guard and other rude and insensitive remarks to the female officer who made the arrest.  Being an ass does not make one guilty of a hate crime.  Furthermore, even if the comments which led to this charge were sufficient to constitute resisting arrest, it is still not a hate crime.  Resisting arrest is not, in and of itself, a hate crime.

Example of what could be considered a hate crime:

John Doe, a sovereign citizen, is sitting at home seething about how much he dislikes law enforcement officers.  He knows that active and retired law enforcement officers gather at the FOP lodge.  He grabs his firearm of choice and heads over the FOP lodge where he opens fire, striking nobody.

Example of what is not a hate crime:

John Doe, a sovereign citizen, is having a few beers, walking around the neighborhood harassing people.  The police are summoned to the area and decide to arrest Mr. Doe for public intoxication.  When the police attempt to apply handcuffs, Doe says “I hate you law enforcement professionals and there is no way you are putting those cuffs on me.”  He then proceeds to fight like the dickens, but is ultimately subdued and incarcerated.

The Legislature, the Governor, and the people of Louisiana sent a powerful message in passing the law that they support law enforcement and appreciate the dangers our law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers face.  However, officers must be circumspect in its application.  Officers and the community alike would be better served if this statute were reserved for those unprovoked attacks on police officers that are unrelated to any action taken by the officers.

In any event, if an officer finds himself inclined to charge someone with a hate crime, against a law enforcement officer or any of the other protected classes, that officer should ensure that he can articulate probable cause establishing that the offender specifically intended to commit one of the enumerated crimes because the victim fit one of the protected classes listed in the statute.  This usually involves a more in-depth investigation into the motivation of the perpetrator.  It may be a good idea to consult with the District Attorney prior to charging anyone with violating La. R.S. 14:107.2.  If there is any difficulty articulating the probable cause necessary to demonstrate that the perpetrator intentionally chose the victim of one of the enumerated crimes because the victim was part of a protected class, then perhaps it would be better to consult with the District Attorney and let them add the charge via grand jury or bill of information.

Police Body Worn Camera Videos

The Louisiana Legislature is currently considering Senate Bill 398 by Sen. Ronnie Johns (R)-Lake Charles.  Senate Bill 398 would exempt all body worn camera videos recorded by police from public records disclosure unless the individual or entity seeking disclosure of the video files a lawsuit and gets a court order directing the video be disclosed.  It should be noted that the bulk of police body worn camera videos will likely be exempt from disclosure based on the already existing law regarding records of ongoing criminal litigation (See La. R.S. 44:3).

In an opinion piece by the NOLA.COM Editorial Board, it is stated that the bill was introduced at the behest of law enforcement.  To clarify that broad assertion, the bill was introduced at the behest of the Louisiana Chief’s Association.  What that means is that the bill was introduced at the request of police administrators across the state, not the rank and file officers.

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Tax or No Tax, The Goals Must Remain the Same

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Cast against the background of the tragic murder of former Saints defensive end Will Smith, discussions of tax measures seem much less important.  There is a fundamental culture of violence that exists in this city which will not go away until the people who find themselves smack in the middle of it decide they will simply not tolerate it any longer.  Until that happens, there will be no meaningful progress in the fight against violent crime in New Orleans.  So, I am going to discuss the failure of the April 9, 2016 tax proposal, but I will be doing so while thinking about Will Smith and all of the other victims of needless violence in the city I choose to call home.

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#FOP Legislative Update

Yesterday, HB 418 by Representative Stuart Bishop (Lafayette)stalled on the House floor.  The engagement of our members in the LAFOP’s grassroots effort against this legislation was aHUGE factor that this vote was delayed yesterday.Twice this session we have asked the members to be part of the LAFOP grassroots campaign by sending an email to Legislators to ask them to not support two important pieces of Legislation and you responded with overwhelming numbers.

While both pieces lay dormant in the House the FOP will remain vigilant on the watch of these pieces of Legislation.  For more information on the Legislation click the links here:

Vote NO on HB 418

HB 523 Update

If you have not sent an email asking your Representative to vote NO on HB 418 click here.

Last week the LAFOP held its Day at the Capital in the Rotunda.  Along with members of the LAFOP Legialtive Committee and our Govermantal Liason Representative, Mapes & Mapes, the Day was a success.  This event gave local lodge members the ability to meet face to face with their Senators and Representatives.  The Day had member participation from Lodges across the State.

Representative Joe Lopinto (Metairie) and Senator Neil Riser (Columbia) both authored resolutions in their respective chambers recognizing May 6-10 as Police Week in Louisiana.  To see the House Resolution click here.  To see the Senate Resolution click here.

On the National Legislative scene the National Blue alert Bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on it’s way to the President for his signature.  For More information on the National Blue Alert Legislation go to this link.

Remember that this is Police Week and a time to remember our Brothers and Sisters that have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Please take time out of our day to remember them and their sacrifice.

Send us your local lodge news. Email toinfo@lafop.net

#HB418 – A Response to Rep. Stuart Bishop

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The following letter appeared in The Advocate on April 29, 2015.  I find it offensive that Rep. Bishop would use such blatantly misleading and inflammatory rhetoric to attempt to influence my beliefs on this issue.  Much of the information in the letter appears to come from the website paycheckprotectionla.com.  The website is registered to an undisclosed company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The petition the website urges folks to sign is a function of Americans for Prosperity.  Americans for Prosperity is a multi-million dollar political activism group associated with the Tea Party based out of Arlington, Virginia.  I mention that only to point out a lack of Louisianans.  Here is Rep. Bishop’s letter:

Our state and local governments should not be acting as membership liaison for unions. Yet our state payroll office deducts money from employees’ paychecks — at their request — to pay their union dues. Last year alone, Louisiana paid close to $1 million to unions. This is allowed at the local level as well.

 I’ve filed a bill this session to end this practice, HB418, telling unions to do their own legwork and collect their own dues.

I’m doing this for two reasons — first, because I think this practice is wrong and it has to stop. Second, because not many taxpayers even know of this activity, and it deserves a little sunshine. Because when my constituents get word that our state and local governments are using time and resources to cut checks to pay union dues for public employees, they’re appalled.

I’m all for freedom of speech. I’m all for the right to advocate for issues that matter to you. But when I want to be part of an organization, I send a check myself. If I’m unhappy with that organization, I cancel my membership.

Those annual dues are an expression of my continued support. And the fact that our government pays $1 million in union dues annually not only says that our state and local governments support union activities, it also pressures our public employees to join up and leaves unions unaccountable to their members.

That goes for any organization. But supporting unions in particular is problematic, especially in Louisiana.

Louisiana supports the Second Amendment. We support family values. We’re more traditional and conservative than the rest of the nation, yet the money our governments are funneling to these unions is being kicked up to national organizations to push positions on issues like birth control, gun restrictions, immigration, global warming, even the Affordable Care Act. Why should our state government be in the business of promoting organizations that promote issues and activities our taxpayers wouldn’t otherwise willingly support?

My bill is simple. It protects workers from paycheck deductions and gives public employees the freedom to choose whether or not they want to contribute to a union and fund union political activities.

Louisiana is not a pro-union state. So why do we cut pro-union paychecks? It’s time to end this inappropriate practice.

Stuart Bishop
state representative
Lafayette

First of all, this bill does not only impact labor unions.  I am a member of the Fraternal Order of Police.  The Fraternal Order of Police is a 501(c)(8) fraternal organization with over 330,000 law enforcement members.  HB 418 would repeal La. R.S. 42:457.1 which specifically addresses the ability of professional law enforcement and firefighter associations to collect dues through payroll deduction.  You can probably substitute any number of professional organizations for the FOP below.  Teachers, firefighters, engineers, and mechanics all have their own professional associations. 

The first paragraph states “Last year alone, Louisiana paid close to $1 million to unions.”  This statement may be technically true.  However, we are not talking about public funds.  These are funds earned by public employees through their hard work.  These public employees freely choose to spend their hard-earned money on paying these dues.  These funds are paid by Louisiana only in the sense that Regions Bank pays my bills.

The third paragraph states “Because when my constituents get word that our state and local governments are using time and resources to cut checks to pay union dues for public employees, they’re appalled.”  I don’t know about Lafayette, but in New Orleans, once an employee indicates that he or she wishes for these dues to be deducted from their paycheck, the computer that calculates pay and other deductions performs the calculation.

The next paragraph states “I’m all for freedom of speech. I’m all for the right to advocate for issues that matter to you. But when I want to be part of an organization, I send a check myself. If I’m unhappy with that organization, I cancel my membership.”  First of all, Rep. Bishop’s affinity for freedom of speech certainly seems rather disingenuous.  Secondly, I appreciate having options when it comes to paying for things.  The Fraternal Order of Police allows its members to pay dues by check or cash if they choose to do so.  Nobody is forced to pay by payroll deduction.  Yet, overwhelmingly, our members choose this method of paying dues.  Since it has little to no impact on the employing body, it seems like it is nice to offer this option to our hard-working public servants.

The fifth paragraph states “Those annual dues are an expression of my continued support. And the fact that our government pays $1 million in union dues annually not only says that our state and local governments support union activities, it also pressures our public employees to join up and leaves unions unaccountable to their members.”  Again, there is the misleading statement that somehow our state and local governments are footing the bill for membership dues for the Fraternal Order of Police.  I can say that it has been my experience that police departments usually do not encourage or discourage membership in the Fraternal Order of Police.

I don’t know how payroll deduction leads to the Fraternal Order of Police being unaccountable to its members.  Without its members, the Fraternal Order of Police would be unable to provide the services and benefits it provides to its members.  The Fraternal Order of Police would also be unable to undertake projects for the betterment of our community.  We value our membership and are always accountable to them.

Paragraph 7 reads “Louisiana supports the Second Amendment. We support family values. We’re more traditional and conservative than the rest of the nation, yet the money our governments are funneling to these unions is being kicked up to national organizations to push positions on issues like birth control, gun restrictions, immigration, global warming, even the Affordable Care Act. Why should our state government be in the business of promoting organizations that promote issues and activities our taxpayers wouldn’t otherwise willingly support?”

The Fraternal Order of Police spends its dues money on services and benefits provided directly to its members.  The Fraternal Order of Police also supports Easter Seals and the Torch Run for Special Olympics.  Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, over $1 Million dollars of Fraternal Order of Police dues flowed to Louisiana to support its members in their time of need.  The Fraternal Order of Police spends dues money on promotional training for its members.  The Fraternal Order of Police spends dues money on services to our community.  I don’t guess everyone supports Easter Seals.  However, I would guess that even those folks wouldn’t begrudge the Fraternal Order of Police for spending some dues money collected through payroll deduction on the exceptional children supported by their charity.

The 8th paragraph indicates “My bill is simple. It protects workers from paycheck deductions and gives public employees the freedom to choose whether or not they want to contribute to a union and fund union political activities.”  Louisiana is a Right to Work state.  Nobody is forced to belong to a union.  As I mentioned earlier, the Fraternal Order of Police is not a union.  Police employees throughout the state do not need protection from the Fraternal Order of Police.   Membership in the Fraternal Order of Police is a privilege afforded to commissioned law enforcement officers, active and retired.  If police employees do not wish to belong to the organization, they are free not to.  If police employees do not wish to belong to the organization, the Fraternal Order of Police is not going to collect dues money from them.  Furthermore, the Fraternal Order of Police is an organization driven by the membership.  They choose what their membership dues are spent on.

The Fraternal Order of Police has over 6,000 members in Louisiana.  In New Orleans, 90% of active law enforcement officers choose to belong to the Fraternal Order of Police.  The Fraternal Order of Police works diligently to serve its members and the communities those members serve.  Being able to pay dues by payroll deduction is an option that does not adversely impact the employing agency.  Our members do not need anyone to protect their paychecks from the Fraternal Order of Police.

Please share this article.  Feel free to copy this in whole or in part.  

CLICK HERE TO TELL YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS TO VOTE NO ON HB 418.

JoinNOPD – Unique Opportunities Abound

untitled (3)Manpower in the New Orleans Police Department is at historic lows.  There are currently somewhere around 1,100 commissioned members of the NOPD, if you include the recent academy graduates who are currently in field training.  There are two other academy classes currently ongoing and the NOPD is budgeted to hire another 150 officers in 2015.  The Fraternal Order of Police has been at the forefront of this issue, pushing for hiring and pay raises when a hiring freeze was first put in place in the beginning of Mayor Landrieu’s tenure.  Today, business leaders and the public have gotten involved calling for a fix to this crisis, adding new officers and keeping experienced veterans.

For job hunters considering a career in law enforcement, the manpower crisis in New Orleans translates to opportunity.  It will take decades to undo the staffing problems created by years of neglecting recruitment and retention, so these opportunities are not likely to disappear any time soon.

The New Orleans Police Department serves an urban population of about 380,000 anduntitled is the center of a metropolitan area with a population of 1.2M.  New Orleans is home to the world-famous French Quarter and the equally famous Bourbon Street.  New Orleans is the home of world-class events and festivals such as Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  New Orleans has hosted 10 NFL Super Bowl games (tied with Miami for most Super Bowls).  Somewhere around 9 Million people visit New Orleans annually from all parts of the world.  The New Orleans Police Department is widely acknowledged for its crowd control prowess.

The New Orleans Police Department is made up of a patrol function, investigative function, and support functions.  With the exception of full-time air support, the New Orleans Police Department has all of the police functions one would expect from a modern, big city police department.  All of these specialized units, something that most aspiring law enforcement professionals might be interested in, are suffering from the same manpower shortages that the rest of the department is suffering from.  This means opportunity for those interested in pursuing this aspect of a law enforcement career.

IMG_1309-0In addition to the possibilities created by the lack of manpower, the New Orleans Police Department has experienced a rebirth of sorts.  In 2013, the City of New Orleans became a party to a federal consent decree.  The consent decree, while unearned, has created a situation where significant changes are required to be implemented.  The loss of manpower is a common side-effect of these consent decrees.  The Feds are happy to see the old guard call it a day so that a significant portion of the department employees are consent decree employees.  This also creates opportunity for the newly hired with ambition — opportunities to move into leadership positions and develop policy.

Current entry-level NOPD salaries are generally competitive in southeast Louisiana and in other areas of the country.  There is much work to do with regard to NOPD salaries.  The Fraternal Order of Police stands ready to continue to fight for what are truly competitive salaries.  So, while the New Orleans Police Department’s salaries do not match up beyond the entry-level salaries, the public is aware and on our side.  The Civil Service Commission had recommended a 20% raise.  The groundwork has been laid and all roads lead to more substantial raises.  The Fraternal Order of Police has been there and will be hard at work until these raises become a reality.

The New Orleans Police Department needs new officers and lateral transfers.  The people of New Orleans are clamoring for new officers and lateral transfers.  The opportunities available to members of the New Orleans Police Department and those that join the New Orleans Police Department are unusual.  People considering a career in law enforcement and potential lateral transfers would benefit by taking advantage of these opportunities and placing a bet that the Fraternal Order of Police and the people of New Orleans will prevail upon our elected officials to raise pay to a truly competitive level.

Please take the time to visit WWW.JOINNOPD.ORG for more information and to complete an application.

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NOPD Disciplinary System Update

A quick update:

It appears the number of DI-1 investigations are up significantly. As most NOPD personnel are likely aware, most investigations are being conducted by division supervisors. The consent decree requires that investigations involving allegations of criminal misconduct, unreasonable use of force, discriminatory policing, false arrest or planting evidence, untruthfulness/false statements, unlawful search, sexual misconduct, domestic violence, and theft must be conducted by PIB personnel as opposed to division supervisors.

Paragraph 399 of the consent decree indicates that internal investigations must be allegation based as opposed to being based on the anticipated outcome. The NOPD has interpreted this as meaning they must investigate every complaint as described by the complainant, no matter how ridiculous the complaint may be on its face.

The body worn cameras have paid some dividends in a few cases. There have been several allegations made against officers that have been clearly and unequivocally discounted based on body worn camera evidence. Paragraph 400 of the consent decree limits the circumstances that an investigation can be classified as NFIM (no formal investigation merited) to complaints contesting traffic citations, complaints about delay in police services, complaints about off duty civil matters, or if the person complained about does not work for NOPD. The NOPD has interpreted that to mean that absent those limited circumstances, a full investigation, including statements, etc., must be conducted even if there is video evidence exonerating the officer. It was my suggestion, on behalf of the FOP, that paragraph 400 of the consent decree would allow the NOPD to assess video evidence and assign a formal disposition at the intake stage if warranted. This would serve to reduce the workload of division supervisors. This would also reduce the amount of time that officers, who would normally be serving the public, would be off the street tending to unsubstantiated complaints.

In addition to increasing the efficiency of the disciplinary system, this plan should also include referring cases proven to be false through video evidence for investigation as to whether the complainant violated La. R.S. 14:133.5 relative to Filing a False Complaint Against a Law a Enforcement Officer and referred for prosecution. The officer should also be made aware of any complaint proven to be false to allow the officer to pursue civil remedies if he or she chooses.

The Fraternal Order of Police provides legal representation to its members as a benefit of membership. With complaints up and more and more people with different motivations and interests participating in the internal investigation process, it is more important than ever to take advantage of these legal services. It is best to call as soon as you learn of the existence of a complaint. Sometimes an officer is notified of a pending complaint and sometimes an officer does not find out until they receive a notice of an extension hearing at Civil Service. In any event, an officer can contact me directly or Jim Gallagher, our Legal Committee Chairman, regarding the legal services provided by the FOP. The FOP is committed to protecting the rights of its members under all circumstances, minor or serious.

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Signs of a DI-1

20121202-133353.jpgGenerally, officers are not notified by the NOPD that there is an active internal investigation.  Most of the time, officers find out that they are involved in an internal investigation when they receive a letter from Civil Service about an extension hearing or they receive a Notice to Render Statement.

The Extension Hearing

The Louisiana Police Officer’s Bill of Rights (LSA 40:2531) requires that administrative investigations be completed within 60 days.  The Department has the option of requesting an extension of up to an additional 60 days from the Civil Service Commission.  NOPD investigators routinely request the extension in almost every case.  Once the investigator requests the extension Civil Service generates a letter to the officer notifying them of the upcoming hearing.

The letter from Civil Service informs the officer of the PIB Control number, the date and time of the hearing, the identity of the hearing officer, and the location of the hearing.  Receipt of this letter is often a surprise to officers.  The letter also informs the officer of the right to have counsel and that the hearing will not be continued.

If you receive one of these letters, you should contact your FOP attorney, if you have not already done so.  If you have already contacted your FOP attorney regarding the investigation, you should still contact your attorney and advise him of the upcoming hearing date.  Your FOP attorney can appear on your behalf at this hearing.

An officer is not required to appear at an extension hearing.  If the officer does not appear and does not have an attorney appear on his behalf, the extension will simply be granted.  The officer also has the option of having his FOP attorney appear on his behalf.  Of course, an officer can attend the extension hearing, if he is so inclined.

What happens at an extension hearing?  The only issue under consideration at an extension hearing is whether or not the investigator has shown “good cause” for the extension.  The facts of the investigation or the propriety of the officer’s actions are not an issue under consideration at an extension hearing.  Generally, the investigator is the only person who testifies.  The officer or his attorney can ask some limited questions relative to the need for the extension or make a statement with regard to the need for an extension.  Again, any questions or statements are relative to the need for an extension.  It would not be relevant to ask the investigator about the statement he took from the complainant or a witness.

Once the investigator has testified, the hearing officer makes a recommendation to the Civil Service Commission as to whether or not the extension should be granted.  The officer usually receives another letter in the mail form Civil Service which informs the officer that the hearing officer’s recommendation is to be presented to the Civil Service Commission for ratification at their next regular meeting.  Generally, there is no testimony at this meeting relative to extension requests  The Civil Service Commission merely considers the recommendation of the hearing officer and then ratifies it as its own.  Again, an officer who receives such a letter should notify their FOP attorney so that the attorney can appear on his behalf.

The Notice to Render Statement

Sometimes, an officer learns of an open DI-1 when they receive a Notice to Render Statement from the investigator.  Sometimes this form is delivered by email or through the officer’s admin officer.

The Notice to Render Statement form contains several important pieces of information.  At the top of the document, the form lists the investigator’s identity as well as the charges being investigated.  The form constitutes a written order to appear at a specific location on a specific date at a specific time to render a statement.  The location, date, and time can also be found on this form.

If you receive one of these forms, you should contact your FOP attorney if you have not already done so.  If possible, you should forward a copy of the Notice to Render Statement form to your FOP attorney.  By law, you have up to 30 days to secure representation.  However, it is important to make contact with your FOP attorney as quickly as possible.  What you do not want is for the date to render a statement to come and go without making contact with the investigator.  If the statement date is inconvenient for one reason or another (AWP, furlough, etc.), it is usually possible to reschedule.

Your FOP attorney will discuss the actual statement with you in greater detail with your specific case in mind.  The form also lists numerous other things that you can be ordered to do.  For example, you can be ordered to take a CVSA, take a urinalysis, or stand up in a physical lineup.  These things rarely happen.  99 times out of 100, all you would be required to do is render a verbal statement.

You can contact me directly at 504-905-8280 or DAL@LIVLAW.COM.

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