Penalty upheld for NOPD officer caught drinking in uniform - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Penalty upheld for NOPD officer caught drinking in uniform


NEW ORLEANS - The Civil Service Commission on Friday denied an appeal by a New Orleans police officer who was busted in a uniform scandal at an Uptown bar. The Police Department found that the officer violated rules relating to professionalism, uniform specifications and the use of alcohol while off duty.

In February 2011, heads were turning outside Fat Harry's on St. Charles Avenue as a woman sporting an NOPD uniform shirt made her way into the bar.

Not far behind her was off-duty detective Rob Hurst wearing his uniform pants, but not his NOPD shirt.

Chief Ronal Serpas was beside himself when he saw the video.

"I can't imagine how little respect someone like that must have for the dignity of our service and the dignity of those who've died wearing the same shirt - and to let someone wear it in a bar," Serpas said.

As it turns out, Hurst had drinks at two other bars that night with the woman wearing his police shirt.

His attorney, Donovan Livaccari, said Hurst was initially told he would be suspended for eight days.

"I think the initial penalty was stiff," Livaccari said. "And then the superintendent - for whatever reason - decided to more than double the penalty."

The Civil Service Commission upheld Hurst's 18-day suspension, and it turns out that the additional penalty was levied after the officer's own admission that before visiting the bars, he stopped at a fraternity party on Broadway. While dressed in his NOPD uniform, including his badge, name tag, assignment insignia and firearm, he consumed alcohol and chugged a beer in a challenge with a fraternity pledge.

"It's all about this profession having a dignity associated with it for those who've been killed," Serpas said. "Wearing the uniform and to degrade it and disrespect it in such a way, to me, is reprehensible."

"Officer Hurst took responsibility for his actions and tried to make things right as best as he could, and in return, he gets and 18-day suspension," Livaccari said.

Livicarri calls it harsh compared to another uniform scandal a few months later, when customers of a westbank car wash found seven of Commander Michael Harrison's uniform shirts with NOPD patches on them in a trash can.

For that, Harrison was suspended for one day.

Livaccari says Hurst's fight isn't over yet.

"We have 30 days from today to file an appeal, and I plan on taking this case to the 4th Circuit," Livaccari said.



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