With officers warming to the program, the city’s new office for managing paid police details will end 2014 in a better financial position than was projected a few months ago, its director said Monday.
Although it will still be about $260,000 in the red at year’s end, the Office for Police Secondary Employment reached its first month of positive net revenue in September and is projected to sustain that status going forward, retired Lt. Col. John Salomone Jr. told the City Council.
Salomone’s presentation came during the sixth day of the council’s budget hearings, which included presentations from offices and programs within the purview of Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin.
The Office of Police Secondary Employment is a major component of the federal consent decree governing reforms to the New Orleans Police Department.
Nearly all police detail work was folded into the new system earlier this year, but officers were hesitant to accept the new program, and many customers turned to other law enforcement agencies to handle their security. In April, Salomone told a council committee that the office, which is supposed to pay for itself, would have a $700,000 deficit by year’s end.
Instead, the net loss will be $259,609, he said Monday.
As of Sept. 30, 634 NOPD officers, or 64 percent of eligible officers, had worked a detail through OPSE, Salomone said.
Last month, they worked more than 22,000 hours of paid details. Salomone said the break even point for running the office is about 21,000 hours per month.
“I project more than 21,000 hours per month to be sustained from now on,” he said.
OPSE expects to be entirely self-funded in 2015, meaning it won’t need any money from the city’s general fund to operate, he said. The office is expecting total operating costs of $934,000 next year.
Still, the number of detail hours that officers are working under the new system is below the levels reached before a 2011 U.S. Department of Justice report, which guided the consent decree, called the city’s detail system an “aorta of corruption” in the NOPD. Officers worked nearly 35,000 hours in paid details in December 2010.
Kopplin said the figures don’t offer a direct comparison because the earlier data covered more officers and included “task” details, such as motorcycle escorts for weddings, that have not yet been merged into OPSE.