NOPD Mardi Gras Pay – 2023

Mardi Gras 2023 is February 21, 2023.

I and other FOP Board members have received numerous phone calls from other officers asking about a rumor that the City of New Orleans would be paying officers from other jurisdictions $50/hr. to come to New Orleans and work the parades and other assignments working its way up to Mardi Gras and $75/hr. on Mardi Gras Day. After having received a phone call from FOP VP Willie Jenkins, III and since I had not heard anything official about this, I sent an email to New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño to see what I could find out. I immediately received a text from Ms. Montaño asking if he could call me on the telephone.

Mr. Montaño explained that he was currently working with his team on two (2) separate plans to bring pay for current NOPD employees up to at least $50/hr. for the period leading up to Mardi Gras Day and at least $75/hr., if not more, for Mardi Gras Day, February 21, 2023. This temporary pay increase will be legal and justifiable because NOPD officers will have to supervise officers from other jurisdictions — at least help them out and call for a rank, if necessary.

Mr. Montaño told me that he anticipates that these plans may be considered by the New Orleans Civil Service Commission on January 20, 2023. The next stop would be at the New Orleans City Council on February 2, 2023 for approval by the City Council. Put those two dates on your calendar, it may be necessary to attend in support of these two plans.

I also got a call from a former NOPD officer who now works at another law enforcement agency. I must say that he sounded better and I am happy about that. He told me how his rank had explained the New Orleans Mardi Gras invitation and then, knowing he had come from New Orleans, asked if it was worth $75/hr. to work during Mardi Gras. While his answer had been no, my answer would have been yes.

First, $50/hr and $75/hr are good wages for working Mardi Gras. Second, it would be terrific experience for any outside agencies. Other cities have tried to have a New Orleans style Mardi Gras only to have the party turn into a brawl. Third, you won’t get this type of experience anywhere else. I am sure someone is thinking “they have big crowds in New York all the time and they seem to manage.” Have you ever been to New York for a special event? It is not the same. My daughter and I were in New York for the 4th of July and waited in a long line, put into pens without access to restrooms, food, water, etc. and left there for what would have been hours. I say what would have been hours because we split and went back to watch the fireworks on television at the hotel. I was glad we were allowed to leave.

I had fun at every Mardi Gras I ever worked. I worked on the parade route, in the districts, on motorcycles, on horseback, and in the lead vehicle for parades. It was fun. If I had been paid $50-$75/hr. or more, it would have been more fun.

While there is an occasional incident at Mardi Gras, I can say in all honesty that I didn’t see any or have to work any. I may have had to maneuver a parade around one, but it was not a big deal.

In short: If you are a law enforcement officer from another agency who has an opportunity to come to New Orleans to work Mardi Gras, I would do it. It is fun and the pay is good. If you are a law enforcement officer employed by the NOPD, put 1/20/23 and 2/2/23 on your calendar. You too should be making at least $50 and $75 per hour and we need to make sure we support CAO Montaño’s efforts to make it so.

Privacy and Communication for Law Enforcement


As we have seen previously, law enforcement officer enjoy virtually no privacy with regard to communications made using equipment which belongs to the department.  In fact, some things are recorded and kept for years just in case someone may need to retrieve them later.  These things, like recorded dispatch channels or MDT to MDT chats, are also public records.  However, this data would most likely be accessed by the officer’s own agency.  The data could be accessed for some type of data analysis or for some type of internal investigation.

Today, the New Orleans Police Department updated its regulations on cell phones.  Policy 702, effective today, lays out NOPD policy with regard to agency owned phones and personal phones/tablets.  It clearly states in 702.2 that there is absolutely no expectation of privacy with regard to communication made using departmental equipment.  The bigger question is what are your privacy expectations with regard to a privately owned device.

Phones and tablets are so common-place today that everyone expects the next guy to at least have a cell phone.  Tablets have not quite gotten to that level, but they are more common than ever.  So, the department has decided you can carry it with you, subject to some restrictions.  The department can not unilaterally impose a no right to privacy edict on your personally owned phone.  Or can they?

First of all, the department can limit your use of a device for personal business.  Along with always having a phone with you comes the fact that people always have your phone number.  They may not have your working schedule.  So, what is allowable with regard to personal phone calls?

The regulation gives some guidance.  You can call your wife to let her know you will be late getting home from work.  You can answer a call from your wife in the event of a family emergency.  Can you call your wife to discuss your son’s failing grade in math?  Probably not.  I suggest thinking about it as if you were sitting on the desk.  What would be an acceptable amount of time to spend on the phone conducting personal business?  The answer is probably not much.

Can you conduct official business on a personal phone?  I think the answer is maybe.  You   can certainly use it for emergencies if you are unable to use the radio for some reason.  Platoon personnel have to be careful not to use the phone for what you would otherwise use the radio (dispositions, callbacks, etc.).  You can not use bluetooth ear pieces.  You can not text while you are driving.

Again, the big question is privacy.  I think the answer is that if the communication is of an official nature, it is likely that the department can and will order you to relinquish the information.  That includes phone records, text messages, or whatever.  You can probably redact your personal information.  However, if the official business is a disciplinary action because an officer was using the phone for personal business while standing on the parade route, then suddenly your personal business, which you may have otherwise enjoyed a privacy interest, may become official business and be subject to disclosure.

I know this all sounds grim.  Police officer enjoy less of a First Amendment right than your average citizen.  Police officers enjoy less of a privacy interest than your average citizen.  You would need a search warrant to obtain that kind of information from a private citizen during the course of an investigation.  This, however, is the current state of the law.

Finally, with the Sugar Bowl, Mardi Gras, and Super Bowl XLVII around the corner, it would probably be to everyone’s benefit to be familiar with all of the regulations found in Policy 702, particularly 702.5.  I see DI-1’s in the near future.