Off-duty New Orleans police officers can be seen across the city working second jobs: standing guard outside stores, at the Superdome during Saints games, and patrolling certain neighborhoods that pay for the extra service, says the New Orleans Times Picayune. Such moonlighting is seen as a matter of necessity for many cops, who over the years have consistently ranked among the lowest-paid officers working in big-city departments.
Last week’s report from the U.S. Justice Department about widespread problems in the police department singled out private details for criticism, saying they have a deeply corrupting influence on the agency “We believe it will be impossible to transform the culture of NOPD without dramatic change to the detail system,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez. “As one of our contributors commented, ‘The paid detail system is the aorta of corruption within the New Orleans Police Department.'” The unregulated system for awarding the work — in which officers select fellow officers to work certain details — is ripe for corruption, the report contends. It argues that the detail system contributes to inequitable policing, because better-off neighborhoods can tax themselves to pay for extra policing, while poorer neighborhoods — which arguably need more police presence — must rely on the local district for services.