By WDSU Digital Team | WDSU | December 23, 2021

The New Orleans Police Department said 29 of its officers appear to have violated rules related to off-duty details. The alleged violations amount to 2% of all off-duty details jobs, the NOPD said Wednesday in a statement about its findings.

Some officers could potentially be charged with crimes. NOPD said an internal probe into the allegations will look for “potential criminal” violations, in addition to administrative ones. The department said its Public Integrity Bureau is working with the Office of the Inspector General and the independent police monitor to investigate the 29 alleged violations.

“We take the allegations brought to our attention very seriously,” NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said in a statement. “We are conducting a thorough and in-depth investigation and we will hold ourselves accountable to the high standards we set for ourselves and our community holds us to.”

Early in its investigation, Public Integrity Bureau “identified a gap” between NOPD payroll’s system and the Office of Police Secondary Employment’s scheduling system. The Office of Police Secondary Employment was created nearly a decade ago as part of NOPD’s federally mandated reforms after the U.S. Department of Justice found NOPD’s internal paid detail system led to corruption. The department said it can now cross-reference the payroll system with the Office of Police Secondary Employment scheduling system.

“This will allow the NOPD and OPSE to share information that will eliminate schedule overlapping and will ensure that officers cannot be scheduled for regular duty shifts and OPSE detail shifts at the same time,” the statement said.

Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche said the OPSE was designed to eliminate corruption but instead created a blind spot, making it difficult to catch bad actors. He noted criminal charges are grounds for dismissal, should the probe find any officers violated the law.

“The solution that was crafted actually maintained the problem, just under a different heading,” Goyeneche said.

The NOPD statement says the agency and the Independent Police Monitor “takes this 2% seriously and will hold officers accountable.” It also said each of the violations is “undergoing a systematic review” to find out if immediate supervisors of the offending officers failed in their supervisory duties.

Correction: An initial version of this post incorrectly stated 2% of the officers who work details were found to have violated the rules. The violations NOPD discovered make up 2% of the paid details worked by commissioned police officers.