NOPD bill changed in committee

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, on Tuesday changed his legislation on extra duty pay for police officers during the Senate Judiciary B Committee. The changes embraced by the committee include prohibiting communication between the New Orleans Police Department and those managing police details and secondary employment.
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, on Tuesday changed his legislation on extra duty pay for police officers during the Senate Judiciary B Committee. The changes embraced by the committee include prohibiting communication between the New Orleans Police Department and those managing police details and secondary employment.

Legislation involving New Orleans police officers’ off-duty assignments got a makeover Tuesday.

State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, told the Senate Committee on Judiciary B that he reviewed Senate Bill 159 for two weeks and decided to make changes.

Police officers often work secondary assignments off the city clock to make extra money. Federal officials called the city’s paid detail system an “aorta of corruption” in 2011.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu created a separate office, the Office of Police Secondary Employment, to oversee extra duty assignments. Among other things, the mayor proposed a pay schedule for time-based assignments. The president of the Police Association of New Orleans characterized Landrieu’s tweaks as a money grab by the city.

SB159 originally sought to include secondary duty payments in an officer’s benefits if the work is administered or managed by the city or the police department.

Morrell threw out that language Tuesday.

He said he presented a series of questions to the city. In return, he said, he got a list of answers to frequently asked questions.

“They sort of answered,” Morrell said.

He put forward amendments that would put the city’s outline of the new system into law.

The changes embraced by the committee include prohibiting communication between the New Orleans Police Department and those managing police details and secondary employment.

Landrieu’s spokesman, Ryan Berni, said after the meeting that the mayor opposes the legislation. Berni did not offer reasons for the opposition.