Saints Security Details Entangled In Consent Decree, Off-Duty Police Work Dispute

NEW ORLEANS, LA &#8211 Hours before the New Orleans Saints’ first home preseason game Friday (Aug. 15), city officials were still sorting out how to provide enough police officers for Superdome security without violating terms of the federal court order that governs the NOPD.

City attorneys Thursday filed a request for a one-time exemption from federal mandates that regulate the maximum hours an officer can work each day, to accommodate the Saints’ game against the Tennessee Titans. The request, which was not opposed by the government, was approved the same day.

“It wasn’t brought to our attention until this week,” City Attorney Sharonda Williams said. “We’re confident because we’ve got a little time we’ll be able to fully staff the games.”

Under terms of the consent decree, which mandates numerous changes in nearly all areas of NOPD operations, officers can work a maximum of 16 hours out of any 24-hour period.

On weeknights, the restriction makes it difficult for the department’s Office of Police Secondary Employment to staff off-duty officers for games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The city’s contract with Superdome manager SMG requires a set number of officers, taken from a list of 200 officers chosen by SMG, further limiting the pool of available officers to staff games on weeknights.

Including Friday’s preseason game, the Saints will play three weeknight games this season, Thursday, Aug. 28 and Monday, Nov. 28. City spokeswoman Garnesha Crawford said that the city should be able to staff those games without running up against the 16-hour limit.

Eric Hessler, attorney for the Police Association of New Orleans, said officers have been reluctant to sign up for off-duty detail assignments through OPSE since changes to pay and hours recently were altered. While many officers have for years worked the Superdome detail, Hessler said they recently were told their pay for games would be cut nearly 10 percent, from $32 an hour to $29.31, prompting some officers to drop off the detail.


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