URGENT NOPD EMPLOYEES – Take-Home Vehicles

THE FOLLOWING IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR NOPD EMPLOYEES:

The New Orleans Police Department, like many other police departments, issues take-home vehicles to some employees.  In fact, the NOPD intends to expand the number of take-home vehicles in use by department employees soon.  Recently, the NOPD ordered the first 100 of 400 new police vehicles which will be issued to FTO’s and platoon personnel.  For those officers who are issued take-home vehicles or may be issued take-home vehicles in the future, it is imperative that these officers understand the City’s take-home vehicle policy or risk personal liability in connection with these vehicles.

CAO Policy Memorandum 5(R) states that the NOPD can assign marked take-home vehicles to officers who live in Orleans Parish and travel to and from work to that location in Orleans Parish.  Otherwise, officers must live in Orleans Parish and have less than a 40-mile commute and be available and regularly called out on a 24-hour basis (think unmarked cars for detectives).  CAO Policy Memo 5(R) further states that officer assigned take-home vehicles can only use these vehicles for official purposes, including details, with one big exception.  Officers assigned take-home cars are allowed to use these vehicles for personal use when they are incidental to driving to or from work.  In other words, an officer can stop at the cleaners on the way home to pick up clean uniforms, assuming the dry cleaners is not in Tangipahoa Parish.

City vehicles should not be used to perform personal business. However, in some instances, take-home vehicles may be used to perform incidental, personal errands outside the course and scope of City business, so long as the errands are conducted to and from work without significant deviation, are brief in nature, and do not detract from the employee’s activities as a public servant.

This leads to the BIG CATCH.  The City is self-insured.  As such, it regulates its own insurance policies in conjunction with state law.  With regard to take-home vehicles, if an officer uses the vehicle for personal use, including driving to and from details, the City WILL NOT PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERAGE OR REPRESENTATION in the event of an accident and a lawsuit.

Such limited personal use, while permitted, does not fall under any coverage provided by the City’s self-insurance program.

CAO Policy Memo 5(R) Sec. XVI, Paragraph F reads as follows:

Insurance: Each Department or Authorized External User, authorized by contract, will require that every employee with a take-home vehicle provide a copy of their current personal automobile insurance policy or their current personal non-owned automobile insurance policy to the Appointing Authority. It shall be the responsibility of each department to ensure that insurance policies or proof of insurance coverage are submitted as they are renewed. Copies shall be provided to the City’s Risk Manager.

 

Vehicle use outside the scope and purpose of employment by the City, whether permissible or not, is not covered by the City’s self-insurance program. [Note that Authorized External Users are not covered by the City’s self-insurance program – See Certificate of Insurance Letter] Every employee with a take- home vehicle must endorse their current Personal Automobile Policy to provide coverage for Non-Owned Autos, including Physical Damage Coverage and provide evidence of the coverage in force. Minimum personal automobile insurance coverages and limits required of employees with take-home autos are as follows:

 

i. Automobile Liability, Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability – Mandatory State Minimum Financial Responsibility Limits.
ii. Uninsured Motorist – No less than the Minimum Financial Responsibility limits, or your liability limits, whichever is greater.
iii. Comprehensive and Collision – Any deductibles will be the sole responsibility of the employee and will not be borne in any way by the City, for damage due to accidents outside the scope and purpose of employment by the City.
iv. Non-owned coverage including Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability and Physical Damage (“Comprehensive” and “Collision”).

 

Any employee with a take-home vehicle that does not own a personal vehicle or have a Person Automobile Insurance Policy in force must purchase a Personal Non-Owned Automobile Liability and Physical Damage Coverage (“Comprehensive and Collision”).

 

The Auto Liability limits shall be at least the Mandatory State Minimum Financial Responsibility Limits for bodily injury and property damage. Any deductibles will be the sole responsibility of the employee and will not be borne in any way by the City, for damage due to accidents outside the scope and purpose of employment by the City.

Police Officer Jason Samuel was involved in an automobile accident driving his take-home police car on November 14, 2010.  Officer Samuel was on his way home from a detail when, while sitting at a red light, his foot slipped off the brake and he struck the vehicle in front of him.  Fortunately for Officer Samuel, he was a member of the FOP Legal Defense Plan.  The City Attorney’s office advised Officer Samuel that they would not be representing him in connection with the lawsuit following this accident.  Officer Samuel’s insurance company told him the same thing.  Officer Samuel was ultimately represented by Tony Livaccari, Livaccari Law, through the FOP Legal Defense Plan.  While the FOP Legal Plan provided Officer Samuel an attorney, it did not pay the settlement in the matter.  Ultimately, that would end up costing Officer Samuel more than $5,000.00.

Police Officer Robert Ponson is in the same boat.  Officer Ponson was involved in an accident on the way home from a detail and was involved in an accident in his assigned take-home vehicle.  Officer Ponson was also advised that the City Attorney would not provide him with representation since he was on the way home from a detail.  His insurance company indicated the City should be representing him.  Again, the FOP Legal Plan will be providing representation for Officer Ponson.

It is imperative that officers who are assigned a take-home vehicle call their insurance agents or insurance companies and arrange for non-owned vehicle coverage.  Officers should make the situation perfectly clear.  If the insurance company does not write that coverage, then the officer needs to either get an additional non-owned vehicle policy, change insurance companies, or give the take-home vehicle back.

Officers have to understand that their personal assets are exposed should they get in an accident if they are not properly insured.  It is simply not worth the risk to operate a take-home vehicle if the security of the officer’s family is compromised.  Soon, the NOPD will be offering 400 take-home vehicles to officers who might not otherwise have the opportunity to be assigned a vehicle.  The temptation will be strong.  Leaving the car at the station is not an option if the car will be used to drive to and from details.  The bottom line is get the insurance or give the car back and make sure you belong to the FOP and the FOP Legal Defense Plan.

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#NOPD Superdome Detail

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UPDATE:  I have been informed that a pay raise for the Superdome detail is official.  The detail rate for the Superdome will increase by $5.00 per hour effective July 1, 2015 – just in time for the Essence Festival.  Click here to see the email announcing the increase.

Looking for a way to make a little extra money?  Don’t really feel like completing trip sheets feeling out hot spots?  Wouldn’t work for OPSE if the world was coming to an end?  Just completed field training and can only work supervised details?  There is an option.

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NOPD Disciplinary Investigations Update (Updated)

As most officers are aware, the NOPD has interpreted the consent decree as requiring they investigate absolutely every allegation, no matter what it is.  I have seen formal disciplinary investigations of officers alleged to have “smirked,” “sighed loudly,” and “made go-golly eyes.”

Most of these investigations are receiving the appropriate disposition at the conclusion of the investigation.  However, one thing that I have noticed is that officers are being sustained for other, minor, administrative violations.

For example, one common sustained violation is for failing to complete an FIC card.  Officers should be aware that they are required to complete FIC entries on individuals they come into contact with regardless of whether that person is arrested, cited, or merely interviewed.  In the past, officers were not required to complete FIC’s for individuals who were arrested or cited.  Why complete an FIC when the information is being documented in-depth in an incident report?  The short answer is that the information, particularly arrested subjects versus not arrested subjects has to be maintained separately.  In any event, the current rule requires an FIC whether an incident report is completed or not.  Just the other day, I was involved with an investigation where an officer, who was not initially accused of anything, was sustained for failing to complete an FIC.

Next is detail forms and the detail database.  As we are all well aware, the consent decree has made a total mess of the paid detail system.  Who really knows if we are coming or going with anything regarding details?  It is a disaster.  The only upside is that hopefully this disaster will lead to pay raises (we’re working on it).  In any event, if you are working a paid detail that is not being managed by OPSE, you still need to have an NOPD Paid Detail Authorization form in for that detail.  Even if you are working an OPSE detail, you still need to call the dispatcher and get an item number, etc., when you get to the detail and you still need to enter that item number and other information into the detail self-reporting database the next time you are at work.  If there is a complaint regarding a detail, no matter what the complaint is, you can rest assured that PIB is going to check the detail authorization and the database in the course of the investigation.

Finally, I would like to point out FOB Policy 39.  FOB Policy 39 requires platoon sergeants to monitor how long calls have been holding and make call backs to complainants on any call holding more than 60 minutes.  I have seen a marked increase in the number of investigations alleging violations of FOB Policy 39.  I understand that this is a tall order when there is one sergeant, one desk officer, and two officers on the street.  However, when the complaint comes in that someone is upset they had to wait 3 or more hours for the police to arrive, you can rest assured that will be one of the first things PIB checks.  Sergeants have the option of asking the desk officer to make the call backs, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the sergeant to monitor the length of times calls are holding. That being said, I would keep an eye out for potential revisions to that policy that may require a more active part on behalf of the desk officer.  As it stands today, it is the sergeants responsibility.  Make sure that everything that is done in this regard is relayed to the dispatcher so that it is included on the complaint history for that item and is recorded on the dispatch channel.

UPDATE:  I would also like to mention MVU’s.  Just because you have those pretty body cameras does not mean that you do not have to worry about the in-car dash cams.  If you have an MVU that does not work for whatever reason, or you were never issued a USB key, please note that on your Trip Sheet every time.  It may not suffice to note it once.  When you get in a car, make sure to check the functionality of the dash cam every time.  If it is full, note it on your Trip Sheet.  If the front camera is missing, that does not mean that the cameras do not work.  Note it on your Trip Sheet.  Notify your supervisor.  Do it every day.  If the camera works, use it as described in the policy.  This is another thing that investigators routinely check in the course of a DI-1 investigation.

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#NOPD: Over the Precipice

NOPD: Over the Precipice

It will take over 40 years to return to full strength

The New Orleans Police Department has gone over the precipice. We may be beyond the point of return. And the blame rests clearly at the feet of Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas. They were both forewarned.

In February 2011, the Fraternal Order of Police issued the first hue and cry about the NOPD manpower crisis. For three years, in every news story and interview possible, we have repeated the mantra….”Manpower….Manpower…Manpower”. We have advocated the repeal of the domicile ordinance and we have opposed the tattoo policy. We have asked that the focus be turned to retention and the recruitment of fully trained, post certified lateral police officers.

In February 2011 there were 1415 commissioned New Orleans police officers.

Today, there are 1135 sworn officers – counting from Superintendent down to Field Recruit. Over 100 of those are unable to perform their duties due to serious injury, long-term illness or administrative reassignment.

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#NOPD Police Details #NOLA #FOP #FOPNO

detail mcEconomic Impact for the City of New Orleans

Sugar Bowl (2012) – $493.73 million (Metro New Orleans) http://www.allstatesugarbowl.org/site.php?pageID=19&newsID=564#.Uy3IA61dViY

NBA All Star Game – $90 million  http://gnosports.com/2014-new-orleans-host-committee-announces-successful-nba-star-game/

Mardi Gras – More than $500 million (Regional)  http://www.wdsu.com/news/entertainment/carnival-central-extended-coverage/new-orleans-prepares-to-implement-new-mardi-gras-rules/24569136#mid=18674480

French Quarter Fest – $259.5 million  http://fqfi.org/about.html

WrestleMania XXX – Unknown – Estimated 80,000 visitors   http://www.neworleanscvb.com/press-media/press-kit/whats-new/

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – More than $300 million  http://www.forbes.com/sites/adrianalopez/2013/05/06/new-orleans-jazz-fest-comes-full-circle-with-its-mission/

What do all of these things have in common?  The police details which contribute significantly to making these events safe and successful will not be handled by the Office of Police Secondary Employment (OPSE).

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OPSE Developments 8/8/13 #FOP #FOPNO #NOPD

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On Thursday, August 8, 2013, the New Orleans City Council considered the proposed OPSE ordinance, yet again.  The ordinance considered today was an amended version of the ordinance.

On Wednesday, August 7, 2013 the DOJ send a letter to the City Attorney’s office complaining that some of the amendments to the proposed ordinance would be contrary to the provisions of the Consent Decree.  The DOJ Letter can be found by clicking here.

As a result of the DOJ letter, the City Attorney’s office advised the City Council that if they didn’t pass this ordinance and adjust it to comply with the Consent Decree that either the City would be held in contempt of the Consent Decree or that Judge Morgan would not allow any paid details at all.

Ray Burkart lobbies for amendments to OPSE ordinance.

Ray Burkart lobbies for amendments to OPSE ordinance.

The City Council met in Executive Session for about two hours while they discussed how they were going to handle the ordinance in relation to the DOJ letter.  Once they came out of Executive Session, Stacy Head offered the following amendments:  Section b(6) was to be deleted in its entirety and the words “or rotation requirement” were to be deleted in Section b(9).  These two amendments passed 6-0.  Cynthia Hedge-Morrell did not vote.

Susan Guidry then offered an additional amendment that deleted section b(8) in its entirety.  Ms. Guidry’s amendment passed with a vote of 5-1 (Head voted AGAINST).

The entire, amended ordinance was then offered and voted on by the entire City Council and it passed with a vote of 5-2 (Head and Hedge-Morrell voted AGAINST).

The final version of the ordinance looked something like this.

Myself and Raymond Burkart, III were present the entire day and worked tirelessly to try to get the best possible outcome for FOP members.  Raymond gave an impassioned plea to the City Council, but by then they had already decided what action they were going to take.  The video can be found here.

Raymond Burkart, III argues on behalf of the FOP.

Raymond Burkart, III argues on behalf of the FOP.

The entire City Council insisted that it was their intention to further examine the issues raised in the letter from DOJ and revisit the ordinance accordingly.  It should be noted that Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, who was responsible for most of the amendments to the ordinance, did not vote out of protest and because of an ethics complaint leaked to the media.  It should also be noted that Stacy Head was steadfast in her opposition to today’s second amendment and the ordinance as a whole.  It is worth watching the entire video.

What does all this mean?

The ordinance that passed set the pay scale for paid details that are time-based (as opposed to flat-fee details.  For example, a four hour stand-up at Wal Mart is a time-based detail.  A motorcycle escort is not a time-based detail.

The ordinance defined “Major Special Events” to include events held at the Convention Center, Fair Grounds, Mahalia Jackson, New Orleans Arena, Saenger, Superdome, and Lakefront Arena with an expected attendance of at least 2,000 people.  Major Special Events are exempted from the rotation requirement.

Holiday/High Demand premiums of $17/hr (which will all go to the officer working the detail) will be charged on New Year’s Day, MLK Day, Mardi Gras, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, Lundi Gras, Friday after Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve.

The rates were set.  They can be found on this document.  The $17/hr premium will be added to the amounts on this chart.  The OPSE fee will not change.

The fee charged by OPSE to administer details will be 15% or $5.00/hr whichever is less.  The fee is capped at $5.00/hr.  This fee can be waived by ordinance of the City Council.  Exceptions to the pay scale can be made by ordinance of the City Council.

Any fees collected by the OPSE which are not spent on the administration of the OPSE will be returned to the officers who worked details in an amount proportional to the amount of detail hours worked.

There can be special rates of pay for details requiring special certifications.  For example, K-9 handlers, bomb techs, and divers may command a detail rate commensurate with their level of training.

Officers can agree to work a detail for an amount lower than the pay scale for pre-existing details.  For example, if you currently work a detail for Mom and Pop Restaurant for $20/hr., you can continue to do that if you wish.

The amendments that were deleted today are lined out on this document.  In effect, the amendments were to remove options for the City Council to waive the rotation requirement and protections for the special taxing districts.  This does not necessarily mean that Lakeview and Mid City will fall under the OPSE, but it does exist as a possibility.  We will be staying on top of this issue to try to get that amendment protecting the special taxing districts reintroduced.

You may have some questions after reading this.  You are welcome to ask.  I don’t know if we will have an answer yet, but if we do, we will share it.  There are plenty of things that remain to be seen with this OPSE plan.  We will keep you updated as much as possible.

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OPSE Update 6/27/13 #FOP #FOPNO #NOPD

UPDATE:  City Council committee advances measures creating new office to oversee police details – NOLA.COM

Today, the New Orleans City Council’s Budget Committee met to consider the ordinances proposed for the Office of Police Secondary Employment.  The ordinances considered today set the pay scale for officers and established an enterprise fund through which those payments will be made.  These are the ordinances that have been available for quite some time.IMG_8074

Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell (co-authored by Councilmember Stacy Head) offered a number of amendments to these ordinances.  A gist of the amendments were as follows:

  1. “Major Special Events” to include events held at the Convention Center, Fair Grounds, Mahalia Jackson Theater, Sanger Theater, Superdome, New Orleans Arena, and Lakefront Arena with expected attendance exceeding 2,000.
  2. Holiday premium will ($17/hr.) will be paid on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Mardi Gras, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.  Also receiving premium pay will be Lundi Gras, Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
  3. The OPSE fee will be 15% of the hourly rate not to exceed $5.00/hr.  Any difference will be split between the officer and the detail employer.  For example, an officers pay would go to $29.50/hr. and the detail employer would only have to pay $33.93/hr.
  4. The amendments specify that no additional amounts will be charged to the officer.
  5. Any fees left over at the end of the year will be refunded proportionately to the officers who worked details and the OPSE’s budget will be adjusted to reflect actual expenses (rounded up to the nearest percentage).
  6. The City Council can waive the OPSE’s fee by ordinance.
  7. The City Council can make an exception to the pay scale by ordinance.
  8. The City Council can waive the periodic rotation requirement by ordinance.
  9. OPSE will comply with La. R.S. 33:2339 (Otherwise known as SB159)
  10. Special Taxing Districts or Security Districts (Lakeview, Mid City, etc.) will remain overtime and not subject to OPSE.
  11. Details required by special order of the City of New Orleans are not subject to pay or rotation requirements.
  12. Rates of pay for details requiring specialized certifications (bomb dogs, divers, etc.) would not be set by the pay scale, but based on level of certification.
  13. For any pre-existing, single-officer details that are paid at a rate lower than the schedule rate, officers may elect to continue working the assignment at the lower rate.

IMG_8072The ordinances, along with the amendments will be considered at the next regularly scheduled City Council Meeting, July 11, 2013.  There the proposed ordinances will be voted on by the entire City Council.

Video of today’s meeting can be seen here.  Choose #11 on the agenda.

Don’t forget to download the new FOPNO App available for iOS and Android today!

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FQMD Details Presentation #FOP #NOPD @FOPNO

Below is the most recent presentation made on behalf of the FOP regarding paid detail reforms and the OPSE.

Quicktime Version:

PDF Version:

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FOP in the News – Federal appeals court orders temporary stay of NOPD consent decree | NOLA.com

Federal appeals court orders temporary stay of NOPD consent decree | NOLA.com.

Update on Paid Details and Promotions #NOPD #FOP @fopno

On Thursday, the Budget Committee for the New Orleans City Council met with funding for a sergeants exam and the proposed ordinances for the Office of Police Secondary Employment on its agenda.  Myself, Raymond Burkart, III, and Jim Gallagher were present on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police and its 1,100 active police officer members.

SERGEANTS EXAM

Fraternal Order of Police

Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant and Carey Grant introduced an ordinance to fund a sergeants exam.  Under the ordinance, $89,084 goes to the Civil Service Department for preparation and administration of a sergeants exam.  Andy Kopplin, representing the administration, suggested that the administration wanted to use a different source of funding for the sergeants exams, but were committed to funding an exam.  The Budget Committee passed the ordinance allotting the funds from the original source, giving the administration the option of presenting an alternative source of funding at the June 6, 2013 City Council Meeting.  One way or another, funding for a sergeants exam will be in front of the City Council at the June 6, 2013 meeting.  Click here to see the video.  Once you see the agenda, click on Ordinance No. 29,533.  The two ordinances are actually Nos. 29,548 and 29,549, but the video leads in to the right point.  Carey Grant, Andy Kopplin, Lisa Hudson, and Raymond Burkart speak on the matter.

DETAILS

Raymond Burkart, III argues on behalf of FOP

Raymond Burkart, III argues on behalf of FOP

The Office of Police Secondary Employment offered their two ordinances later in the meeting under Ordinance Nos. 29,470 and 29,471.  There was a Motion to Defer consideration by Councilmember Hedge-Morrell.  Ultimately, it was decided that the OPSE and the FOP would make their presentations and then the Chair would entertain a Motion to Defer if one were made.

The OPSE made their presentation.  A copy of the OPSE presentation can be found here.  There are no real surprises and I won’t attempt to summarize their presentation here.  Take a look at it.  It is interesting reading.  A copy of the OPSE budget for 2013-2015 can be found here.

The FOP made its presentation.  A copy of the FOP presentation can be found here.  Again, I am not going to bore people by recounting the whole presentation.  You can watch the video or check out the FOP presentation.

There were no additional speakers or presenters.

Following the meeting, the FOP sent this letter to City Council members, CAO Andy Kopplin, and OPSE Director John Salomone.

The letter summarizes the FOP’s position with regard to the reform of paid details.

The bottom line is that following the two presentations, Councilmember Hedge-Morrell made a Motion to Defer the two ordinances.  The Motion was seconded by Councilmember Head.  The meeting was adjourned immediately after.

These two ordinances that establish the detail pay scale and an enterprise fund through which detail money will be collected and paid, will be before the City Council Budget Committee again in the near future.

What does this mean in the big picture of things?  We are still standing in front of a moving train.  It is going to be difficult to stop it.  However, working with the City Council, the FOP is attempting to influence what we can in order to maximize the chances that officers will still be able to make their lives better for themselves and their families.  The letter we sent to members of the City Council summarizes our current position on paid detail matters.  We value input from members from the Fraternal Order of Police.  If you have suggestions on this, or any other, topic, please feel free to share them.