The Police Association of New Orleans is calling all cops to join ranks against wants to stop what the group says is an effort to take away protection that NOPD officers and New Orleans city employees currently enjoy.
PANO urged all officers to attend today New Orleans Civil Service commission meeting.
"This matter is the most serious we have yet faced," PANO President Mike Glasser said in an email to police officers. "I cannot over-emphasize how detrimental this proposed 'initiative' is to the city in general, and the NOPD in particular. It will be the end of the NOPD as you know it."
PANO Attorney Eric Hessler says keeping Civil Service is crucial. He says the mayor and police chief should not get the power to hire, fire, promote, demote and set pay.
"It's certainly too much power," he insisted. "It's going to introduce political patronage back into the system."
Hessler says NOPD officers face a serious threat.
"At issue is nothing less than the very protections they have enjoyed and had the right to for 50 years," the PANO lawyer said.
Most other law enforcement in the state does not have civil service protection. New Orleans changed its system.
Hessler says, "It was designed to keep political influence out of city employment."
Glasser stressed that NOPD should be different than other law enforcement.
"Civil Service will remain in name only, a powerless vestige of what separates us from at-will SHERIFF's offices," he told the police force. "Do not believe for a moment that your Civil Service Protections will remain in place. That's a hollow promise."
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is leading the call to change the system through what he calls common sense reforms.
"Reforms seek to modernize – not eliminate – our civil service system," the mayor insists. "New Orleans' residents are crying out for a more effective government, and the City's traditional personnel system stands in the way. We must preserve the safeguards that have value, while modernizing what does not. In addition to improving basic human resources processes, I am committed to paying our employees a living wage. Increasing the minimum wage for City employees will ensure that our hard-working employees have a paycheck that better supports their families and provides more economic security."
It was part of a proposal that would also raise the minimum wage for city workers in New Orleans to $10.10 per hour.