ZURIK: Investigators question Mayor Cantrell’s security about travel, down time

While nothing in the NOPD policy book states traveling officers should bill 16 hours, officers said they always billed taxpayers for 16 hours while traveling, regardless of how long they actually worked.
Updated: Mar. 17, 2023 at 5:00 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In leaked recordings from investigative interviews with members of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s executive protection team, officers say they always logged 16-hour work days when they traveled with the mayor, and officers who stayed home while she was out of town sat around the office and ran errands for her family members.

The New Orleans Police Department’s Public Integrity Bureau launched an investigation into Officer Jeffrey Vappie’s timesheets after a series of Fox 8 investigations showed him spending long hours at the city-owned Upper Pontalba apartment with Mayor Cantrell. The PIB was looking into whether Vappie broke a rule that only allows officers to clock 16 hours and 35 minutes in a 24-hour period.

Surveillance images show NOPD officer Jeffrey Vappie and Mayor Cantrell visiting a city-owned...
Surveillance images show NOPD officer Jeffrey Vappie and Mayor Cantrell visiting a city-owned apartment, often during the work day(French Market Corporation)

The investigation quickly expanded to include questions about his schedule and his relationship with the mayor, which Vappie described as “professional.”

Vappie often accompanied Mayor Cantrell on domestic and international trips. During those trips, he regularly clocked long hours. FOX 8 asked the NOPD and Mayor’s office about the long hours, but neither answered. However, in the recordings, Vappie and another member of the security team say they were told by other officers that traveling meant logging an automatic 16-hour day, paid for by taxpayers.

Jeffrey Vappie: “A trip would come up and we rotated the trips. And it was my understanding that when you went on a trip it was 16 hours.”

PIB Officer: “What do you mean it was 16 hours? I don’t understand.”

Jeffrey Vappie: “It was always overtime built-in, additional overtime on the trip. Okay, that’s my understanding of the trip. That’s how it’s been.”

While nothing in the NOPD policy book states traveling officers should bill 16 hours, officers said they always billed taxpayers for 16 hours while traveling, regardless of how long they actually worked.

On Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, Cantrell and Vappie flew back to New Orleans after a trip to Los Angeles, California. That flight landed around 4 p.m. However, Vappie continued to bill taxpayers until 10 p.m. that night. According to the leaked recordings, since it was a travel day, he automatically clocked 16 hours.

PIB Interviewer: “Okay, how did you know that automatically that was a 16 hour day, during travel times.”

Jeffrey Vappie: “Because that’s what was told to me when I came on the team.”

PIB Interviewer: “By Who? By whom?”

Jeffrey Vappie: “By the team members Louis, Rob…”

PIB Interviewer: “So, did a supervisor ever tell you this?”

Jeffrey Vappie: “No.”


‘Incredibly disappointed;’ Vappie’s attorneys say recording leak compromised investigation

Former New Orleans city attorney reacts to leak in Vappie investigation

Investigators grill mayor’s security about travel and Vappie’s HANO board appointment

Calls for third-party to investigate Officer Vappie after alleged missteps during his investigation

FOX 8′s Outside the Office series also questioned what officers did while Mayor Cantrell was out of town when they weren’t traveling with her. Officer Robert Monlyn said they logged the same hours, but pivoted their focus to protecting the mayor’s daughter.

PIB Interviewer: “So, on the days when the mayor was out of town with Vappie and you were here, what was your schedule like then?”

Robert Monlyn: “Same hours, usually have to, so stick to eight to eight, but baby girl had to go to school. I think she goes to school at 7:15, think she has to be there. So, pick her up, drop her off. Pick up at the end of the day. Take her to get something to eat and take her to the house. Let’s just hope she doesn’t have practice, or a nail appointment, or a hair appointment.”

Now-retired Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Ellis also said when the mayor was not around, her daughter became priority number one.

PIB Interviewer: “So in executive protection, is (sic) there any duties that you would have without the mayor being there? Or her family?”

Charles Ellis: “If she’s out of town we deal with the daughter. So, her daughter is in grade school, middle school. So, we picked the daughter up at school… drop the daughter off at school, and pick her up. So say me and you work, and we decide you bring in the morning, and I pick up in the evening. We basically on call. So, that means no detail, you basically on call. So, if the daughter needs anything, take care of the daughter. You know, so we’re basically on the clock, we’re still on the clock. Yeah. So we take care of the daughter if the mayor is not around.”

Some of those same duties also took place when Cantrell was in town. Sources tell FOX 8, this is not uncommon, and that past mayors have also asked security members to perform similar duties for family members.

PIB Interviewer: “Okay. Did you ever have to do anything related to protection with the husband or the daughter?”

Jeffrey Vappie: “Yes. Stuff like bring them to the game or doctor’s appointment, school with the daughter, doctor’s appointment [with] the daughter.”

The interviews also reveal the officers spent many days sitting around the office while billing taxpayers.

PIB Interviewer: “Let’s talk about your duties while you’re with the mayor, and at city hall. Okay, what would that look like when, when, let’s say the mayor got her office at City Hall? What would you do?”

Jeffrey Vappie: “Go upstairs, bring her upstairs, and then check the office and then go out to our cubicles.”

PIB Interviewer: “What would you do while you were at your cubicles?”

Jeffrey Vappie: “Sit down.”

PIB Interviewer: “And?”

Jeffrey Vappie: “Sit down, that’d be it.”

PIB Interviewer: “So, is there a computer at your cubicle?”

Jeffrey Vappie: “Yes.”

PIB Interviewer: “Is there a telephone at your cubicle?”

Jeffrey Vappie: “Yes.”

PIB Interviewer: “So you would just sit down and just do nothing?”

Jeffrey Vappie: “I would just sit in my cubicle, you asked me what I would do. I’d go, right after checking the office, sit down at the cubicle. Walk around the office. Then at two o’clock, I go pick up the daughter from school and that’d be a wrap, Come back.”

Cantell uses a four-person security detail team. Three of those are NOPD officers. Some have questioned if, amid a police shortage, the city should look for outside security instead of the NOPD to provide executive protection for the mayor.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.