In The News › Sanctions warranted on New Orleans police details, but reforms needed as well: An editorial

Aug 4, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Orleans Parish

Sanctions warranted on New Orleans police details, but reforms needed as well: An editorial

Thursday, August 04, 2011
By Editorial page staff
The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas’ sanctions against nine officers involved in a scandal over paid details were warranted, but the chief and Mayor Mitch Landrieu also need to move forward on reforms proposed in May.

Superintendent Serpas handed out three-day suspensions to nine officers for forming companies to run the private details in direct conflict with department regulations. He also barred the officers from working details for six months.

The suspended officers included police Commander Edwin Hosli and Sgt. Bradley Rhodes, both of whom had already served 87 days of unpaid emergency suspensions. Commander Hosli and Sgt. Rhodes, who both have close ties to Superintendent Serpas, became the focus of the scandal for running companies that oversaw paid detail work for City Hall. Those details involved off-duty officers reviewing tickets issued by the city’s traffic cameras and providing security at the city’s impound lots. Those were public functions, and New Orleanians should not have paid officers extra to carry them out.

Commander Hosli and Sgt. Rhodes returned to work Tuesday but will remain out of uniform pending the results of a probe by Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux’s office. Superintendent Serpas said the two ranking officers may face further discipline.

Superintendent Serpas said the other seven officers were suspended for violating department policy, not for any allegations of illegal activity in their operations.

Meting out sanctions sends a message to other officers in the department and to the community. But by itself it’s not enough. The superintendent and Mayor Landrieu also must carry out the reforms Superintendent Serpas proposed more than two months ago. Those included centralizing detail coordination in a civilian office and setting limits for detail work. The Bureau of Governmental Research said this week those changes, if properly enforced, should curtail abuses.

Some of the officers who acted as intermediaries between private businesses and NOPD colleagues seeking detail work earned more than $100,000 a year through that work. Those officers often set their own fees, and they held enormous power, as they could decide who got the most coveted details. It’s no wonder that the Justice Department labeled the detail system the “aorta of corruption” in the NOPD.

Nothing short of a transfusion is called for. Justice Department and city officials must ensure that happens.

Aug 4, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Orleans Parish

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