FOP files federal challenge to new NOPD police detail system

Published: Sep. 13, 2013 at 10:46 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:46 PM CDT
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The newly-created office to manage off-duty police details in New Orleans now faces a legal challenge in federal court.

The Fraternal Order of Police followed up Thursday's lawsuit in Civil District Court with another suit Friday. The federal suit challenges whether the new detail coordinating system violates federal labor laws and federal tax laws, and questions the financial implications for NOPD officers.

The FOP says, with the Office of Police Secondary Employment now handling details, it believes the officers are working for the city and are no longer private employees.

The police association wants a judicial opinion as to whether federal labor and tax laws are being followed.

Raymond Burkart, III, spokesman for the FOP, says, "On one hand officers are W-2 employees. On the other hand, the city doesn't want the responsibility for liability issues, workers compensation and proper taxation, like Social Security, where the city pays half and the employee pays half."

The city maintains that police officers assigned to details by the OPSE are not working as city employees.

Thursday, the FOP filed suit in Civil District Court. In that legal filing, it argues the new system should be declared unconstitutional for two main reasons.

It says the pay plans for officers under the detail system should have been established by the Civil Service Commission before being ratified by the City Council, but the FOP says that didn't happen.  The lawsuit also alleges the new Office of Police Secondary Employment violated officers rights when it comes to their long-standing contracts to work details for companies, neighborhoods, individuals or events.

The Police Association of New Orleans filed a similar challenge with the Civil Service Commission.

The City Council gave final approval to the new detail system in August, after much debate and several delays.

The city calls the new legal challenges unnecessary.

Deputy Mayor and CAO Andy Kopplin says, "The police unions' continued actions to stall these efforts hurts the rank-and-file police officers and interferes with the officers' ability to make secondary income."

The city urges the organizations to drop their lawsuits and help ensure the new police detail system is successful.