Money Not Well Spent
The New Orleans Police Department misappropriated more than 200 officers and 8,600 man-hours to “keep the peace” at the Confederate monuments as the city removed them last month, city records show.
The cash-strapped city spent more than $173,000 on paying officers deployed to removal operations at the Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee monuments, including $112,000 in time-and-a-half overtime pay that went to 178 officers.
The city overtime data and expenses were provided to WWL-TV in response to the station’s public records request for police overtime dedicated to the removal of four monuments starting with the Battle of Liberty Place monument on April 24.
But the records only go back to April 30 and do not include police hours or overtime costs associated with the Liberty Place monument.
Donovan Livaccari, attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, noted the NOPD has a serious manpower problem as it tries to address mounting violent crime. He said he heard from officers who complained that the monument duty was taking them away from their regular work. Livaccari said the NOPD has a budgeted amount of overtime for the year, and dedicating 3,000 hours to the monument removal and protests is sure to make a serious dent in that allocation.
WWL-TV and its partners at The New Orleans Advocate have requested all the expense information for the monument removal. So has Stacy Head, the only member of the City Council who voted against removing the monuments. She said she requested this information weeks ago as the chair of the Budget Committee and has not received anything except what WWL-TV provided her.
“I appreciate that the administration is providing this information in a piecemeal fashion to the media, but I requested a comprehensive accounting and am still waiting for it,” Head said.
Federal court affirms that New Orleans can remove Confederate monuments. including Robert E. Lee statue.
The city has twice pushed back deadlines under the state Public Records Law to provide those records to WWL-TV. Also, the city has not yet responded to the station’s request from early May for overtime and deployment information for the New Orleans Fire Department, which assigned several firefighters to the monument removal efforts.
(Courtesy Dixie Heritage Newsletter, June 9, 2017 ed.)