Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman confirmed Friday that he is working to outsource the management of the lucrative off-duty private security details available to his deputies.
In a written statement, Gusman said that “the Sheriff’s Office is reviewing a plan that involves a third party to assist with the handling of detail assignments,” but nothing has been decided.
Gusman said that his office is “working to update many of our policies and reporting rules to increase the efficiency and accountability of the paid detail program.”
Gusman has been working to improve his much-maligned detail program since September.
In August, The Lens published an investigation into Gusman’s detail fund that found a number of similarities between Gusman’s program and the one at the New Orleans Police Department.
A 2011 U.S. Department of Justice report on the New Orleans Police Department famously characterized the detail program as an “aorta of corruption.”
Sheriff’s deputies who work these moonlighting shifts are paid significantly more per-hour than they do at their regular shift — $25 to $30 an hour for standing guard at such local businesses as Harrah’s and Walgreens. Deputies working at Orleans Parish Prison typically earn less than $10 an hour, though the job does come with benefits.
“Each deputy’s success in working details will rely on their performance on the job at our jail facilities,” Gusman said, “and while working in the community.”
Gusman also took pains to assure his staff that the new proposed third-party system would be open to all staff members at the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“All OPSO deputies, who are in good standing, will continue to be able to work details within the guidelines established by the Sheriff’s Office,” Gusman said, adding that his recent slashing of deputies’ overtime hours will “allow greater flexibility in deputies working details, as we shifted our full-time work schedule to the Louisiana State Police model.”
Gusman said his goal for the change being considered is to create “a detail system that will be easier for citizens and businesses to utilize in reserving the services of our deputies.”
“We will establish a program that places an emphasis on the highest level of transparency and accountability, combined with customer service that will enlist even greater confidence among citizens and businesses working with our deputies.”
The Gusman announcement comes barely a week after New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a similar shakeup in the New Orleans Police Department detail program.
Landrieu hired former Army Lt. Col. John Salomone to manage the police detail system out of City Hall for about $117,000 a year, as reported by our colleagues at Fox8. The Fox8 report featured an on-camera interview with Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin, who asserted that the city was bringing the city in line with the best practices of departments elsewhere.
Gusman didn’t say whether the Landrieu move prompted him to shift toward a possible third-party manager of his own program.
“We continue to analyze other law enforcement agencies nationwide to learn new ways to improve our operations,” said Gusman in his statement, issued through the public relations company the Ehrhardt Group.