Commission approves creation of position Monday
New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has hired the man who will oversee the implementation of a federal consent decree aimed at reforming the department.
Jay Ginsberg has been hearing trials and making recommendations to the city’s Civil Service Commission for the past 18 years.
In his new role as a deputy superintendent, he will ensure the NOPD is complying with the changes the department must enact, such as an end to alleged racial profiling and excessive use of force, for example.
The Civil Service Commission gave the OK Monday to creating the position.
The NOPD has not yet determined what Ginsberg’s salary will be, department spokeswoman Remi Braden said.
Ginsberg “has presided over a vast number of disciplinary appeals filed by NOPD officers and has developed a keen insight into the department’s policies and best practices,” Serpas said in a prepared statement.
“I have the utmost confidence that Jay will ensure all consent decree requirements are met by the department in the most efficient, effective manner possible.”
While Ginsberg will be heading up the NOPD’s efforts to fulfill the decree, the city will also be paying an outside firm, Sheppard Mullin, to monitor the department’s efforts. And a federal judge will ultimately be the arbiter of whether the department is in compliance.
Ginsberg did not respond Thursday to a call seeking comment.
The deputy superintendent position will exist for a year before it is reviewed to determine whether it should be made permanent.
The creation of the position, however, does not sit well with the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
The police union had argued that a captain already employed by the department could monitor the compliance efforts and save the city money.
“We believe — no disrespect against Mr. Ginsberg — that the Civil Service Commission made the wrong decision on the taxpayers’ dime,” said Raymond Burkart III, an attorney for the FOP.
“There are three high-ranking officers with policy, planning, and compliance and investigation experience, and they could have just simply transferred one of these candidates into that office.”
With Ginsberg leaving his position with the Civil Service Commission, Burkart said, there also are concerns about delays to pending cases before that body, since he is the only hearing officer.
Ginsberg, for example, was due to hear an appeal Thursday from six police captains who said they were unfairly passed over when Serpas in 2011 created 16 commander positions and who also challenged the creation of the positions.
That trial, which was scheduled after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in the captains’ favor, will be delayed until a new hearing officer is named.
“It really, really inhibits justice for everybody involved in that case,” Burkart said. “This really puts the civil service appellate process to a grinding halt as far as police officers are concerned.”
It was not immediately clear how Ginsberg’s workload will be handled after his departure.
The Rev. Kevin Wildes, the Civil Service Commission’s chairman, said the timeline for picking a successor has not been decided.
Despite Burkart’s concerns about the effect of Ginsberg’s move and his belief that the NOPD job could have been filled by a police captain, Burkart said he has nothing but admiration for Ginsberg.
“Mr. Ginsberg has been a fantastic and fair and impartial judge in disciplinary appeals for the Civil Service Commission,” Burkart said. “He’s treated both sides fairly and justly.”
A veteran labor lawyer, Ginsberg served as an assistant city attorney in the early 1980s and again from 1990 to 1994.
He has been general counsel for the Recovery School District since 2007.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida in 1976 and a law degree from the Loyola University College of Law in 1982.
Marcy Planer contributed to this report.