A New Orleans police sergeant who was suspended this year for receiving medical treatments while on the clock is the leading contender for a top job at the city’s 911 call center.
Orleans Parish Communication District Director of Operations Shinar Haynes told board members in a Nov. 29 memo that she wants to hire Sgt. Willie Davis as her deputy.
Davis was the fleet manager for the police department until he was placed on desk duty earlier this year. He was suspended without pay for three days after an internal investigation concluded he had received dialysis treatments while on the clock.
The investigation also raised questions about his oversight of the police department’s vehicles. Davis’ successor reported that he was unable to account for at least 150 of its cars.
In Haynes’ letter to Communication District board and staff members, she wrote that she had interviewed candidates for the newly created position of deputy director of operations.
“I have received information that it is apparent that the ‘cat is out of the bag’ and it has become known that Sgt. Willie Davis, a current NOPD officer with 32 years of service is my preferred choice to fill this important and needed position,” Haynes wrote.
She went on to explain why. Though Davis has little experience in emergency communications, she wrote, he briefly worked for NOPD’s Communications Division and has “comparable knowledge” with other candidates. He received the highest interview scores among all applicants, she wrote.
Davis is a decorated officer. Last year, he received a letter of commendation for his response to the 2013 Mother’s Day shooting. In 1996, he was awarded a Medal of Achievement for his role in investigating a drug protection ring run by corrupt officer Len Davis.
This year, however, a Public Integrity Bureau investigation found that Davis violated department policy 41 times in 2015 and 2016 by going to dialysis appointments when he should have been working.
He was paid for 91 hours that he didn’t work, according to the report. Davis’ lawyer Bruce Whittaker argued Davis’ lunch hours should be deducted, bringing it to 51 hours.
The inquiry was spurred by a criminal investigation into the shooting of NOPD Commander Derek Frick in late 2015.
The internal report says investigators received “uncorroborated information regarding Sergeant Willie Davis’ possible involvement in the shooting.” At the time, Frick had just become Davis’ supervisor.
Police have not yet made an arrest in the case, and the NOPD wouldn’t provide anything beyond the initial police report because the investigation is still open.
“Sergeant Davis is not being investigated as part of the shooting and not considered a suspect at this time,” NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble said.
A detective investigating the shooting got a search warrant for Davis’ medical records to figure out where he was on the day of the shooting. He wasn’t working.
According to testimony from Stephanie Landry, who was Davis’ supervisor during most of the time he received dialysis, employees are required to go off the clock for medical treatment. And they’re required to get permission from a supervisor, which she said she did not give.
Davis told investigators Landry had given him verbal permission to take his lunch hour “plus whatever else he needed” to get his treatments.
Through his lawyer, Davis declined to comment.
Haynes acknowledged the investigation in her letter, calling it a “minor issue.”
“I have been assured by NOPD PIB [Public Integrity Bureau] that nothing would preclude him from being fit for this position,” she wrote.
Communication District Director Stephen Gordon confirmed that Davis is still in the running for the job and could be appointed as early as Friday, during a 911 board meeting. He declined to comment further, referring questions to Haynes. She declined to comment.
Government employees’ salaries are public records, but Gordon hasn’t responded to a question asking what the position would pay.
The report also raises questions about Davis’ management of police department patrol cars, floodlights and other pieces of equipment.
Christopher Mark, who took over as fleet manager after Davis, painted a bleak picture of the department’s inventory control.
Police department investigator Sgt. John Helou wrote that Mark told him he couldn’t account for many assets. He had “located around 900 of these assets out of a total of 1,260 assets the New Orleans Police Department is supposed to have in its inventory.”
Those assets include at least 150 vehicles. Mark added that he had heard that some of those vehicles were being used by unauthorized personnel and parked at various locations, including the Superdome.
Gamble didn’t respond to a question asking if the cars are still unaccounted for.
“Mr. Mark stated the current state of the New Orleans Police Department’s fleet was due to
mismanagement,” Helou wrote, “but stated the City of New Orleans was mismanaged as a whole and its systems needed to be updated.”