The following went out via NOPDALL on April 6, 2021:
Subject: NOPD Short Forms
Members of the Department,
IAPro is now able to generate NOPD Short Forms. Attached is a “Request for Public Integrity Bureau Short Form” (NOPD Form 355), please complete the form in its entirety and send a scanned copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. The request will be completed within 48 hours after receiving the emailed request (excluding weekends and holidays).
*Any incomplete forms will delay the request.
Feel free to contact me with any question or concern.
I recommend checking you short form periodically to make sure you are aware of what it says and to make sure it is accurate. You certainly need to check your short form if you are considering leaving NOPD. The last thing you need is to inadvertently leave while “under investigation.” It happens more often than you imagine.
Call me if you have any questions about this or if you have any questions about your short form – sometimes they aren’t the easiest to interpret.
Legislators on the State and Federal levels clearly have qualified immunity in their crosshairs. Click here for info on Federal legislation from National FOP President Pat Yoes. There are other things the reformers are gunning for, but weakening qualified immunity for law enforcement officers seems to be a major goal. It is important to recognize that the “reforms” to qualified immunity will still apply to all other public officers as it has always been. In other words, the Legislators proposing and voting on this legislation will still be able to benefit from from qualified immunity, as will all other public officers exercising the discretionary functions of their office.
I would like to start by saying that Legislators are gunning for the wrong thing. Qualified immunity only relates to civil lawsuits alleging Constitutional violations. Qualified immunity does not apply to criminal matters.
In Louisiana, lawmakers have proposed that qualified immunity would not be available to law enforcement officers for any wrongful death or injury resulting from a use of force. In those cases, the trier of fact would have to decide if the use of force leading to the lawsuit was unreasonable. If the judge decides it is unreasonable, then the lawsuit would be allowed to continue.
Contrast that with the current way qualified immunity is applied. There is a two-prong test to determine if a public officer is entitled to qualified immunity: 1) Did the public officer’s actions actually constitute a violation of the plaintiff’s Constitutional rights? 2) Was the public officer on notice that his actions constituted a violation of someone’s Constitutional rights? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then qualified immunity does not apply. If the answer to either of those questions is no, then the lawsuit will be dismissed as to that public officer.
From the standpoint of law enforcement officers, the current application of qualified immunity serves to protect them from civil lawsuits in a profession that is dangerous and often leads to tense, rapidly evolving circumstances where the lives of law enforcement officers and civilians are in danger. A Tulane University Police Officer and Deputy Constable, Martinus Mitchum, was killed on February 26. 2021 when he intervened in a dispute over wearing a mask at a basketball game. Let that sink in. The shooter wanted to be allowed in the gym during a basketball game and was refused entry because he was not wearing a mask. When the interaction became contentious, Officer Mitchum stepped in to de-escalate the situation. In spite of Officer Mitchum’s efforts, the individual was so interested in not wearing a mask at the basketball game that he pulled a gun and shot and killed Officer Mitchum. It is a dangerous profession.
Other reform legislation includes bans in choke holds, bans on no-knock warrant service, and restrictions on the time of day warrants can be served. I don’t object to those efforts except to say that when someone’s life is in legitimate peril, all options should be on the table. Actually, this legislative efforts are much more reasonable than attacks on qualified immunity.
With regard to qualified immunity, I will point out that I am unaware of any insurance product that would provide liability insurance for law enforcement officers. Elimination of qualified immunity, even under restricted circumstances, would expose law enforcement officers to the same type of civil exposure that doctors are exposed to. As we all know, one reason we pay so much to see the doctor is because the doctor has to pay expensive insurance premiums. The problem is that I am unaware of any insurance product available to law enforcement officers and law enforcement salaries have historically been low.
Without qualified immunity, I think I would have to question the sanity of anyone choosing to work in law enforcement – at least a law enforcement agency without qualified immunity. In his monthly podcast, noted public safety attorney Will Aitchison said that taking a law enforcement job without qualified immunity should be the equivalent of failing the psych exam.
Legislators should be focusing on banning chokeholds. NOPD has banned chokeholds for years and it has had a good result. Changing qualified immunity will have unforeseen consequences that will damage law enforcement forever. Law enforcement officers are not the 1%. Law enforcement officers are blue collar workers who live next door to you. Their kids go to school with your kids. They are much more likely to be able to relate with you than with the 1%. In addition, law enforcement officers are not the ones setting policy within police departments. Those policies are being set and implemented by elected officials and people appointed by those elected officials. When the Dept. of Justice sought to implement a consent decree in New Orleans, the consent decree did not contain mandates for each individual police officer. The consent decree contains mandates for the administration. That is because the administration is responsible for how law enforcement officers perform their jobs.
I am not sure changing qualified immunity for law enforcement officers only will be Constitutional. We are entitled to equal treatment under the law. One way or another, legislators need to keep their eye on the ball and prop up law enforcement so that the profession can best serve their respective communities. Legislators should NOT be taking actions that will forever damage law enforcement as a profession.
All law enforcement officers and those individuals supporting law enforcement should contact their elected officials and let them know that you do not support elimination of qualified immunity for law enforcement officers in any way. Emails, letters, and/or phone calls can be used to serve that purpose. Don’t be shy. This is extremely important.
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.
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.