In The News › Government watchdog says NOPD detail reform plan is a step in the right direction

Aug 2, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Orleans Parish

Government watchdog says NOPD detail reform plan is a step in the right direction

Tuesday, August 02, 2011
By Gordon Russell
The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas’ plan for reforming the NOPD’s antiquated system for monitoring paid police details is a “good starting point” that reflects many of the best practices used by police departments across the country, according to a new report by the watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research.

However, the bureau warns that the effectiveness of the proposed rules will depend on enforcement, noting that a recent investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice found that many of the details rules now on the books are widely ignored.

The BGR report suggests that most of the abuses in the detail system, including those that led to the public outcry, would be cured by Serpas’ reform proposal — provided it’s well-enforced.

The report, whose authors reviewed regulations in about 30 other police departments around the nation, highlights seven key aspects of well-run detail systems: centralized control of details, limitations on types of details, limitations on officer eligibility for details, limits on work hours, regulations on how details are assigned, clear fee policies and a monitoring system.

Mostly, the report finds that Serpas’ plan hews closely to what the BGR considers to be best practices. The nonprofit group’s main quibble is with Serpas’ proposed limitations on work hours. The superintendent’s reform plan calls for officers to be restricted to a maximum of 76 hours of work per week, of which no more than 24 hours could involve a paid detail.

Some other departments are more restrictive, the BGR says. Portland, Ore., for instance, restricts officers to a maximum of 20 detail hours per week, and it limits total work hours to 60. Denver has caps of 16 and 64 hours respectively, the report says.

The report says that “the numbers of hours proposed as the maximums (in Serpas’ plan) are high compared to best practices and should be reconsidered.”

When he unveiled his reform plan in mid-May, Serpas said the recommendations in it would be implemented “within 90 days of their final approval.”

However, it doesn’t appear that clock has begun ticking. At the time, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he wanted the City Council and the Justice Department to weigh in before the final rules are put in place. And Serpas said Tuesday that he wants to move deliberately, making sure he has buy-in from Justice and the community.

Aug 2, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Orleans Parish

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