The Oct. 17 article about employees of the New Orleans Police Department and the work these officers do in their off time described how a chemistry professor at the University of New Orleans had made public records requests for payroll information for several years. The professor turned the records over to the newspaper, which focused on November 2020.
Professor Skip Gallagher appears convinced that police officers should not be working in their spare time. That is what this article is about, right? Why is the fact that grown men have decided to work hard such a concern? In this country, we don’t look down on hard work. When a single parent works three jobs to send their kids to a good school, we applaud that type of initiative. This is the kind of grit that we expect U.S. citizens to have. In fact, we might be critical of someone who complains about the school his kids have to attend if he doesn’t work hard to change his circumstances.
The consent decree, however, says NOPD officers are not allowed to work more than 16 hours and 49 minutes in one day. But that is not exactly true either. New Orleans Police Department officers are not allowed to get paid for working more than 16 hours and 49 minutes each day. NOPD officers have to cut the grass, clean out the gutters and do other work just like the rest of us.
Section XVI of the consent decree entitled “Secondary Employment System,” unlike the rest of the document, has absolutely nothing to do with constitutional policing. If anything, the section of the consent decree on paid details interferes with an officer’s constitutional right to work. Section XVI should be removed from the consent decree.
There is no reason officers should not be able to work as hard as they want. We celebrate hard workers. We should not be looking for ways to trip up hard-working police officers just because they are police officers. Working hard is not a crime.
general counsel, Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police