IG used flawed data in report on NOPD, Serpas says

Advocate staff file photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas Show caption
Advocate staff file photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas

Serpas cites packed N.O. calendar, replaced system in officers’ time issues

The Inspector General’s Office used flawed data to complete a report that found several officers worked more hours in a day and in a week in early 2013 than is allowed by department policy, Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Wednesday.

“All of this data goes back to the first quarter of 2013, and what were we doing the first quarter of 2013? Mardi Gras, Super Bowl, Women’s Final Four,” Serpas told reporters outside police headquarters.

An audit of 90 randomly selected officers out of the more than 1,200 who were employed by the NOPD between Dec. 30, 2012, and April 6, 2013, found that:

  • Seventeen officers worked more than the 16 hours and 35 minutes a day allowed by NOPD regulations for regular tours of duty, overtime and paid details added together.
  • Fourteen officers worked more than the 32 hours of overtime allowed in a week.
  • Paid details were not properly documented or approved according to NOPD policy. Officers failed to enter their details into a database as required, the report said.
  • Three officers worked a total of four paid details during their assigned NOPD shifts.
  • Twelve officers worked 50 paid details without a required break between their regular shift and their paid detail.

The result of such long hours, Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux wrote in the report, could be officers who are too tired to do their jobs safely and effectively.

Another problem, Serpas said, is that the city was using a 30-year-old, outdated payroll system when the audit was done. A new system the city has installed should end many of the issues raised in the report, he said.

Ultimately, though, Serpas’ biggest complaint about the audit centered around the time frame the IG examined.

“The time frame that the inspector general chose to look at, which is his choice, was the busiest time in the history of the New Orleans Police Department,” Serpas said. “He gets to choose what he wants to do. It is what it is.

“We now have a 21st-century payroll system which makes a lot of these findings obsolete in the sense they can’t happen again,” he said.

WWL-TV reporter Paul Murphy contributed to this report. Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.