NOPD officers frustrated by city’s Mardi Gras parade pay disparity offered to outside agencies

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 11:27 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans police officers are frustrated and demoralized by the city offering lawmen from outside agencies higher pay to secure Mardi Gras parade routes than NOPD officers doing the same work, according to an attorney representing them.

City officials last week said they hoped to cover the short-handed NOPD’s manpower needs during Carnival parades by luring police officers and deputies from other Louisiana agencies with a detail pay rate of $50 per hour, and up to $75 an hour on Fat Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the city has provided few details on supplemental pay -- if any -- that would be offered to NOPD officers working the same parade routes.

“It’s a slap in the face, essentially,” attorney Eric Hessler of the Police Association of New Orleans said Tuesday (Jan. 17). “As of now, (NOPD officers) are going to get paid their normal hourly rate of pay that they would make or would have gotten for working any previous Mardi Gras.

“These New Orleans police officers are going to get paid a lesser amount of money to supervise officers underneath them from other jurisdictions, who are going to make a really large hourly rate.”

The city offered the higher rates last week, when it told Carnival krewes that they would have to recruit outside, POST-certified manpower themselves if they want to return to their expanded traditional routes. So far, only the super-sized Krewe of Endymion has succeeded in that task.

Hessler said he has heard from dozens of officers, including rank, who have expressed frustration and confusion at the rollout of the plan and the pay discrepancy.

“The fact that the city has waited (until) three weeks until the beginning of the Mardi Gras season ... to propose this scheme is short-sighted,” Hessler said. “The way that they did it is very damaging to the morale of the average police officer.”

A spokesperson for Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office referred questions about officer pay to the NOPD. An NOPD spokesperson said more information might be available Wednesday.

Donovan Livaccari, an attorney with the local Fraternal Order of Police chapter, said his members also were unhappy with the plan.

“We’re already engaged in a retention battle,” he said. “We don’t need other officers coming in from other jurisdictions to work for a couple of days and get paid more than the officers who are here every day putting in the hard work.”

It remains uncertain whether other krewes will be able to return to their traditional routes. Mardi Gras Guide publisher Arthur Hardy said last week that krewes were having difficulty finding agencies willing to send officers or deputies to New Orleans.

“Maybe if the mayor was a little more focused on public safety and crime, then this is something that could have been identified last Mardi Gras,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

“We knew we had to curtail the Mardi Gras parade routes last year, because of a shortage of officers. The shortage of officers has only become more acute this year, due to the attrition rate and the failure of the political leadership -- particularly the mayor -- to offer pay raises to recruit and maintain existing officers.”

Goyeneche said there are a number of factors that could weigh into the pay scale for NOPD parade details, but that the details of the city’s plan should have been worked out months ago.

“I think it’s a valid point. It needs to be looked into by the mayor and the city council, and we need to make an equitable decision,” Goyeneche said.

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