Part of suspension overturned for NOPD Lieutenant accused of abusing off-duty details

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 4:48 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans Civil Service Commission overturned part of the suspension of a former NOPD Captain accused of repeatedly abusing the department’s off-duty detail program. However, the commission did uphold part of Sabrina Richardson’s suspension, finding she committed several violations.

Richardson was demoted from captain to lieutenant and suspended for 120 days without pay following an internal NOPD investigation into accusations of double dipping and potential payroll fraud.

Richardson was the subject of a series of FOX 8 investigations that found 26 instances where she appeared to have double-dipped, working both NOPD duty shifts and off-duty detail shifts at the same time.

The NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau (PIB) also launched an investigation, headed by Chief Nick Gernon, which backed up many of FOX 8′s findings. The PIB investigation found 44 instances of wrongdoing by Richardson, including 17 instances of apparent double-dipping. Richardson served as Commander of the PIB, the arm of the NOPD that investigates misconduct within the department, from March 2019 to November 2021.

Richardson appealed the suspension before the city’s Civil Service Commission, arguing that 13 of the 17 alleged double-dipping violations happened after she was promoted to captain.

Richardson argued that as captain, her timesheets auto-populated in the NOPD’s payroll system. She claimed that she often shifted her work schedule to accommodate working off-duty details, but didn’t change her timesheets to reflect the actual hours she worked.

The Civil Service Commission accepted the argument and threw out 13 instances where it appeared Richardson had clocked both NOPD hours and off-duty detail work at the same time. The commission upheld four other violations that happened before Richardson was promoted to captain.

The commission also examined separate PIB findings that appeared to show Richardson left detail shifts without permission. In his investigation, Gernon used license plate reading cameras, which revealed several instances where Richardson’s police unit was miles away from the details she was being paid to work.

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FOX 8 also used the cameras and found several examples. That included November 27, 2021, when Richardson was paid to work a detail at Champions Square near the Superdome from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. leading up to the Bayou Classic. At 1:07 p.m., a license plate reading camera captured an image of Richardson’s police unit on the West Bank. About an hour later, another camera caught her unit on Chef Menteur Highway in New Orleans East.

When questioned about that instance, Richardson claimed another person was using her NOPD vehicle to move her belongings while she was working the detail. The Civil Service Commission Report doesn’t say who Richardson loaned her unit to or whether that person had clearance to drive the unit.

Commissioners upheld punishments for nine different occasions when Richardson was supposed to be working an off-duty detail in the Fairgrounds neighborhood, but license plate reading cameras caught her unit on the West Bank near her home.

The commission found Richardson hadn’t informed anyone at the Office of Police Secondary Employment that she left those details and never adjusted her hours to match.

The commissioners concluded Richarson violated the NOPD’s rules while serving as captain of the PIB and said they would “expect a ranking member of the police department to report a pattern of abuse, not profit from it.”

The commission upheld 43 days of Richardson’s suspension and overturned 73 days. Those 73 days of suspension will be removed from her record, and Richardson will be reimbursed for lost wages during that time.

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