A second former Gretna Police Department officer has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the department over what he calls an illegal quota system for arrests and tickets.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Thursday by David Heintz, a former Gretna sergeant, closely mirrors the claims in a 2015 suit filed by Daniel Swear, a former patrol officer. Swear’s lawsuit is expected to go to trial this year.
Heintz and Swear share the same attorneys, Seth Dornier and Corey Hebert of Baton Rouge.
The suit says that Heintz worked for the Police Department from 2006 to 2017 and refused to take part in a quota system that mandated various arrest and ticket numbers. Heintz alleges that he was repeatedly passed over for promotion because he refused to cooperate.
“I was further told many times that I was not a ‘team player’ and on one occasion labeled as a 'rat' in a division roll-call meeting,” Heintz says in the suit.
In January 2014, a Gretna police lieutenant pulled one of his subordinates in for a performance review. The lieutenant’s voice was calm but co…
Heintz claims he met with a patrol captain in October 2015 and with Deputy Chief Anthony Christiana in August 2016 to complain about the quota system. He says he also complained to Christiana about an unspecified “incident of police brutality.”
Heintz says he was punished for speaking up. Soon after he met with Christiana, the suit says, he was transferred from the patrol division to the less glamorous court security beat. That left him unable to secure off-duty security shifts, which had made up a sizable portion of his income.
At his next performance review, Heintz says, he was also docked for speaking out. “For the first time in my career I was accused of no longer being a team player, failing to discipline subordinate officers, being outspoken, too firm in my beliefs, and my capability as a police officer was called into question,” his suit says.
Finally, Heintz says, Christiana told Heintz that he would be fired the next time he was cited for any disciplinary infraction. A firing would be like a scarlet letter to any department interested in hiring him in the future, Heintz said.
Lawyers for the city of Gretna on Wednesday asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a former Gretna police officer who claims he…
Heintz decided to resign in January 2017. He went to work for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office as a patrol officer, making substantially less money in that position than he did as a sergeant in Gretna.
Christiana said Friday he could not comment because he has not seen the lawsuit. In the past the department has denied the existence of a quota system.
Swear amassed a series of secret recordings of supervisors making references to arrest quotas. However, the department says in court that there were never any official quotas and that knowledge of any quota systems did not travel as high as the level of Christiana.
Although the Police Department was supposed to go to trial Jan. 29 on Swear’s lawsuit, its attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown for a continuance on Friday. They said that Christiana has health problems that require the trial to be pushed back.
Brown did not immediately rule on the request.
Day after day, dozens of people file up to the second floor of Gretna City Hall to pay fees for traffic tickets and other minor violations. A …