Group urges NOPD officers to boycott French Quarter Fest
POSTED: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 6:15pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 6:19pm
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WDSU-CNN) — An organization that represents most of the rank-and-file members of the New Orleans Police Department is urging those officers not to take part in detail work during this week’s French Quarter Festival.
If they follow that lead, the move could leave one of the season’s biggest events short of NOPD staff.
The Police Association of New Orleans will hold a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the matter. At issue: The recently announced detail policy that comes in the wake of a series of I-Team reports dating to 2011.
The City is working to establish a new Office of Police Secondary Empolyment to oversee assignments of officers during their off hours. The division will operate independently of the NOPD, will set standards for detail pay (previously, shifts could pay different amounts) and will make assignments using a system that considers rank and the amount of detail work already done by an individual officer.
The plan drew immediate opposition from PANO when it was announced.
The organization’s leadership hopes to force the City to reverse course by presenting a unified front.
“This is not something that we want to do, but it is something that will be discussed because we want to send a message to the City that we disagree with the way paid police details are being handled,” PANO spokesman Eric Hessler told WDSU on Monday.
Hessler insisted his group did not want to disrupt or otherwise hurt the upcoming festival.
A second organization representing New Orleans officers, the Fraternal Order of Police, is circulating a letter to its members expressing its own concerns with the new detail policy.
The letter does not mention the French Quarter Festival. In that letter, however, FOP President Walter Powers alludes to the possibility a boycott would target the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, held in May.
Powers calls any such move ineffective, noting: I am not suggesting we give up. What I am suggesting is that we look at risk versus reward. The risk seems unusually high and the reward unusually low. We still have other options.
Powers is suggesting officers who oppose the new detail policy show up at City Council meetings to share their concerns. The FOP has also scheduled a meeting of its own for April 11, where it will address the matter.