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Zurik: NOPD Sergeant caught on video at home while assigned detail

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 10:00 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A New Orleans Police Department sergeant has been observed on surveillance camera at home while he was supposed to be on a detail assignment.

Sergeant Todd Morrell, is among the 26 officers suspended from performing detail work while the NOPD performs an investigation on findings discovered in a FOX 8 Lee Zurik Investigation “Attention to the Details.”

The video showing Morrell at home is from a camera placed by FOX 8 on a public roadway.

“What’s damning is not that you have a video, but what’s damning is that he did it and your video proves that he did it,” Tulane Law Professor Joel Friedman said.

The video from Oct. 23, 2021, shows Sergeant Todd Morrell on his porch, walking his dog at 7:30 a.m. Records show at that time, NOPD was paying Morrell to work a police detail in the Fairgrounds neighborhood.

”The evil is that he did it. That he‘s knowingly taking this money for work that he didn’t do,” Friedman said.

The records show Morrell was paid for a twelve-hour shift at the Fairgrounds on Oct. 23 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. But in the video, his patrol car is seen pulling in the night before at 9:27 p.m. and it was still there at 6 a.m. the next morning when he claimed to be on the clock for the detail shift.

Just after 7 a.m. Morrell is seen letting his dog out and around 8:15 a.m. moves a personal car in the driveway. At 10:24 a.m. he is seen on the video taking out the trash then leaving in a personal vehicle and returning at 12:16 p.m.

At 1:31 p.m. Morrell returns again and walks up to the driveway. He did get in his police unit a few minutes later, but returned after approximately twenty minutes. He then walks his dog again and takes out the trash, all during his shift where he was assigned to patrol the Fairgrounds neighborhood. During that shift, he was paid about $400.

“The fact that he got paid for a detail that he did, in fact, not work, because he was home at the time, tells me this was not an accident. This was not a clerical error,” Friedman said.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

The new documents obtained by FOX 8 were part of records recently received from the NOPD by a public records request. Also in the records, documents show that Morrell double-billed — working NOPD duty and detail shifts at the same time.

On October 11, according to Morrell’s timesheets, he worked an NOPD shift from 6:25 a.m. to 3 p.m., but in his detail records he was working from Noon until 6 p.m. During that shift, he was paid for both shifts from Noon to 3 p.m.

The next day, October 12, Morrell went on the clock for a detail assignment at 6 a.m. and on the clock for NOPD twenty-five minutes later. For the next five and a half hours, he was paid for both duty and detail shifts.

”They have the right rules in place,“ Friedman said. “But if they don’t enforce them, then that’s on the police department. They have to do better, we should certainly expect more of them.”

In our previous ‘Attention to the Details’ investigations, we showed while the NOPD paid Morrell for duty and detail shifts, we found documentation Morrell was instead in his race car at the NOLA Motorsports Park.

We found more instances of Morrell racing at the Westbank track while getting paid for duty or detail shifts.

On June 24, 2018, Morrell races at the track from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., even through from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. his timesheet showed he only took a 25-minute break during the day.

The NOPD suspended Morrell from doing details, pending the outcome of an investigation into these findings. But he remains on active duty for the department.

Tulane Law Professor Joel Friedman said the information in our stories is infuriating to him and it should be to most of the police force who follow the department’s rules and regulations.

“One of the evils of this kind of behavior is it destroys the morale of the good cops, who are undoubtedly a majority of the force,” Friedman said. “But when a good cop sees this kind of thing going on, what’s the incentive for the good cop to stay the good cop?“

FOX 8 has attempted to reach Morrell for a comment on these stories but have received a statement from the counsel for the Police Association of New Orleans who said that department policy will not allow Morrell to comment.

The Office of Police Secondary Employment, set up as an independent office to administer the detail program, released a statement in response to the FOX 8 Investigations saying they take “all occurrences of non-compliance seriously“ and are investigating and auditing their records back to 2016.

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