New Orleans Motorcycle Officers in Hot Water Over Payola Scandal
A majority of the members of the New Orleans Police Department’s motorcycle officers are in hot water over a controversial assignment they undertook escorting a football team to the New Orleans Superdome.
Some twenty officers in the department are being investigated for violating the department’s policy on private, paid details, and attorneys for the officers say at least three of the motorcycle cops have been transferred out of the traffic division after allegedly taking cash or checks for working a detail.
“Motorcycles can be very lucrative. I mean, escorts are being done all the time, for weddings, for funerals, for large transports, and things like that,” said Fraternal Order of Police President, Henry Dean. “If you’re moved out of that position, you have virtually cut your throat by violating those regulations.”
The FOP is giving the officers under investigation legal counsel in the case.
The incident, which occurred back in September, revolves around motorcycle detail administrator James Neyrey allegedly soliciting payment in the form of checks which were then given to individual officers. The detail for which the payments were solicited involved escorting the Tennessee Titans football team to the Superdome.
While the FOP’s Dean said his organization is helping with legal counsel, he sounds less than supportive of the officer’s conduct in the case.
“To my knowledge, it’s like 19 or 20 officers who were discovered that are taking cash for details after being instructed not to do that. In fact, it was made quite clear,” Dean said.
Ronal Serpas of the NOPD confirmed that the actions of 20 officers in the traffic division are being scrutinized for violations of the “cash for details” policy. He added that there are a total of 34 motorcycle officers employed by the NOPD. Serpas said he sent an email to the entire traffic division to discover if any officers had taken cash for details, and that this current investigation came about after he read the officers’ responses to his email.
“I think it does send a very, very loud and strong message to other officers to get their act together,” Dean said.
The U.S. Department of Justice is in on the act as well.
“My big fear is that if there is too much Brouhaha about details and allegations of violating detail regulations, who’s to say at some point, they won’t ban details all together?” Dean said.
The NOPD did release a statement on the incident which read, in part:
“Based on the Titans incident, I instructed compliance to review motorcycle details, and it was found that- currently- 20 of 34 officers may be in violation. The public integrity bureau is now investigating these allegations. If they are sustained, the officers will face appropriate sanctions.”
NOPD officials have not yet said what those sanctions might involve.
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