Zurik: Police officers claiming to work two jobs at the same time
NOPD Timesheets and detail assignment records show an overlap for certain officers
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - One group of New Orleans Police Officers are earning six figures a year -- but appear to be working two jobs at the same time.
“It’s so blatant,” Joel Friedman, Tulane Law Professor, said. “It’s so pervasive, it’s so consistent.”
The New Orleans Police Department allows officers to work off-duty detail shifts as a way to earn extra money and provide protection for businesses, special events, schools and neighborhood organizations.
Departmental policy states officers can only work detail shifts “during the hours they are off-duty” meaning they can either work a scheduled shift or a detail shift, but not both.
Analyzing NOPD timesheets, FOX 8 found dozens of examples of a few officers being paid twice for what appears to be detail and duty work at the same time, essentially receiving two checks at once.
In 2020 and 2021, FOX 8 found 14 instances of timesheets and detail documents showing Officer Michael Stalbert might have done just that -- being paid twice for about 33 hours of work. For example, on June 18, 2020, Stalbert worked an NOPD shift from 1 p.m. until 9:35 p.m. and a detail shift from 6 p.m. until Midnight patrolling the neighborhood around the fairgrounds. Those records showed a three-hour, thirty-five minute overlap where Stalbert worked the shifts at the same time.
“The taxpayers are not going to be happy if police officers are supposed to be on duty and they’re assigned a private detail when they’re supposed to be on duty,” Dillard University Political Analyst Dr. Robert Collins said. “If an officer or any public employee is on duty, they are collecting a salary from the taxpayers during that period, so the taxpayers and the voters have an expectation that they will actually be doing the taxpayers’ work during that time period and not the work for a private business.”
On April 9, 2021, NOPD timesheets show Sergeant Todd Morrell worked an eight-hour unscheduled shift from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. But detail records from the Office of Police Secondary Employment show at the same time Morrell was allegedly working a detail shift in the Fairgrounds neighborhood from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m.
“Why are the police officers doing it? You know why they’re doing it? Because they can, because they’re getting away with it,” Friedman said.
Todd Morrell’s brother, Nicholas, also appears to have instances of working details and police department shifts at the same time. In one example, on January 20, 2018, Nicholas Morrell worked a Fairgrounds detail from Noon until 6 p.m. while his department timesheet showed two hours into that detail he was also on the clock for the police department. For four hours, Nicholas Morrell worked for two different entities at the same time.
The timesheets of many other officers do not show this disparity.
“There’s always the possibility for errors,” Donovan Livaccari, counsel for the Fraternal Order of Police, said. “I think it’s amazing to me there can be a payroll system administered by police and a payroll system that is administered by another element of the city of New Orleans and for those payroll systems to allow two different working periods at the exact same time.”
Skip Gallagher, a private citizen, acts as an independent watchdog. He has followed and tracked the secondary employment program closely, including these double duties.
“It’s in black and white,” Gallagher said.
He said taxpayers need to be outraged by what he’s able to find out through public records.
“It’s just so disappointing. It’s so disappointing. These are the people that we hope are enforcing the law, and they’d be following their own rules and regulations”
Gallagher said most officers follow the rules and law, but he’s concerned these officers have been able to manipulate the system to add to their paychecks.
“Just to be absolutely clear, most of the NOPD doesn’t do details, half of NOPD does little or no details,” Gallagher said. “And we have this small group who are doing details and doing details at the same time where they’re supposed to be on duty, or vice versa. It just is so infuriating, and it needs to stop.”
FOX 8 reached out to the officers mentioned in this report and received a response from an attorney for the police association saying department policy does not allow the officers to comment. We also reached out to NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson and the Office of Police Secondary Employment and so far they have not made any comment.
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