Criminal Justice

City: High-ranking officers working in City Park trailer do ‘important supervisory work’

The city of New Orleans has responded to a Civil Service Commission staff report calling for the reassignment or demotion of nine, high-ranking police officers who have complained that they’re doing work below their rank.

In an extensive rebuttal, city attorneys argue that the Civil Service Commission’s report was “inaccurate, misguided, and misleading.” They contend that the commission’s investigation didn’t address the officers’ specific Civil Service complaints and that the commission relied on the officers’ accounts rather than department documents.

The eight captains and one major work in a small, windowless trailer in City Park. They’re assigned to the Administrative Support Unit, where they’re supposed to investigate violations of departmental policy — work similar to the Public Integrity Bureau.

The officers say they were sidelined to make way for officers favored by Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

In December, the Civil Service Commission issued a staff report that concluded that the officers were not doing work consistent with their classification and recommended that the commission order Serpas to assign them to work that fits their rank or officially demote them to lieutenant.

In its response, the city attorneys say the U.S. Department of Justice recommended that Integrity Control Officers work outside their districts. When they worked in the districts, according to the city attorneys, they ended up doing the work of assistant district commanders and didn’t spend enough time monitoring compliance with department policies.

Contrary to the officers’ complaints, the city said their work is “very important supervisory work in an administrative capacity” — just the sort of work that captains should do.

Much of the report is a critique of Civil Service Commission’s interpretation of Civil Service rules and the scope of its investigation, which the city contends was overbroad.

For instance, the attorneys argue that the report confuses the officers’ job classification with their assignment. And though the report apparently was based on site visits, staffing reports and job descriptions, city attorneys wrote that no such documentation was provided in response to a public-records request for materials used in the investigation.

Instead, according to the city, the report was largely based on the officers’ “self-serving” responses to a questionnaire about their job duties.

“The entire ‘findings’ section is a rehash of complaints that various ICOs [Integrity Control Officers] (not necessarily these six ICOs) have made in other pending cases … or complaints that the Director perceives were presented in the questionnaire responses,” the city attorneys wrote.

They asked the Civil Service Commission staff to conduct another investigation:

“Given the inaccurate and uncorroborated findings set forth in the ICO report, and the fact that the rule violations alleged by the complainants were not even addressed, the recommendations set forth in the report should not be followed.”

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