After Mayor Mitch Landrieu's May 12 press conference regarding the rising Mississippi River, he took a few of what spokesman Ryan Berni called "off-topic questions" — all of which related to Police Chief Ronal Serpas and the now-infamous traffic camera paid detail program.
Gambit asked Landrieu about Serpas' August 2010 "65-point report," which the chief issued as a benchmark for promised reforms. Among its claims were two items relating to paid details. Item No. 52 read, "The NOPD, by October 1, 2010, will implement procedures that will track and document every off-duty paid detail hour worked by every officer, ensuring compliance with existing and future regulations." The item was marked "In Place," which seemed to indicate Serpas had cleaned up the paid detail system almost two months ahead of schedule.
"That's not what it said," Landrieu said when asked why the paid detail reform seemed to have been checked off the list. Nevertheless, Maj. Edwin Hosli, the 8th District commander who ran Anytime Solutions LLC, a company that managed the traffic-cam details, was clearly violating written departmental policy by doing so. Furthermore, Anytime Solutions received the paid-detail work in September — one month after the NOPD had written that "compliance with existing and future regulations" was "in place."
Earlier in the day, the NAACP led a group of about 25 protesters outside NOPD headquarters asking for Serpas' resignation or dismissal. Landrieu, who has steadfastly defended his chief, doubled down at the news conference: "He is my police chief now and my police chief for the future," he said. The chief himself was absent from the news conference; Landrieu said he was attending a long-planned graduation for a family member in Nashville, Tenn. — Kevin Allman