By Cassie Schirm, WDSU
Updated August 15, 2023
A federal hearing to discuss the consent decree and NOPD’s handling of an investigation into Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s executive detail is pushed back another week.
This comes after Cantrell’s administration asked the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene in a hearing ordered by the federal judge overseeing the NOPD consent decree.
U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan is seeking more information on the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau’s investigation of alleged payroll irregularities by Officer Jeffrey Vappie.
Morgan has ordered the city of New Orleans into court to address the police department’s compliance with the consent decree with respect to the PIB investigation.
City leaders say the city’s filing with the Fifth Circuit seeks to prevent that hearing from happening.
The federal police monitor criticized the internal investigation saying they were not in compliance.
In their May report, they focused on the bureau, and the monitors wrote that PIB is “at the heart of the NOPD’s ability to prevent misconduct, build trust among its officers, and build community trust.”
They raised multiple shortcomings in the investigation. The report outlined multiple allegations against Vappie, including violations of the 16.58-hour workday limitation and violations of NOPD’s professionalism rules and duties.
In the latest filing from the city, the city mentions the special overtime authority, authorized under Superintendent Shaun Ferguson, for Vappie.
It also says he violated a “professional conduct” rule when he spent time alone with Cantrell outside his regular duty, which according to the report, goes against the training he received. The report also outlines two of Vappie’s co-workers bringing their concerns about the behavior to Vappie’s attention and telling him to stop.
Metropolitan Crime Commissioner Rafeal Goyeneche says this is bigger than the Vappie investigation. He says the judge will use this investigation as an example to see if they’re in compliance.
“Maybe special consideration was applied in this case that isn’t applied to other cases,” Goyeneche said. “That’s relevant because many of the officers who leave talk about a double standard and the way investigations are handled. So this is more and bigger than just a Vappie case. It’s about attrition within the police department, it’s about public safety and ultimately, it’s about whether the police department is actually in compliance with the consent decree, which is about trying to prevent some of the scenes from the past reemerging and the future going forward.”
A court date is set for Aug. 24.