Serpas takes hard stance against lying in plan for NOPD

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by Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on August 23, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 8 at 2:40 PM

NEW ORLEANS -- As the NOPD deals with multiple indictments in connection with the Danziger Bridge case and other federal investigations, Superintendent Ronal Serpas is installing a 65-point plan for reform.

At a news conference to mark his first 100 days in office Monday, Serpas emphasized a new zero tolerance policy on dishonesty most.

"If you lie, you die. If you tell this police department a lie about anything, you will be terminated. If you allow a false or inaccurate report to be created under your name, you will be terminated," Serpas said.

The plan also calls for a revision of NOPD's hiring standards, and, with the help of state police, an overhaul in recruit training.

Other steps include: the use of vehicle tracking devices in squad cars, computer tracking of officers' off duty details, and a policy banning them from receiving cash payment for the work.

Serpas believes certain polices will be met with resistance from some in the NOPD.

"They must understand that this plan is in the best interest of the citizens we serve and the forward professionalism of their service,” he said.“If anyone cannot embrace these changes, then we will replace them with professional police officers who will."

There are questions -- especially when it comes to the dishonesty policy.

Henry Dean, who heads up the Fraternal Order of Police, said his group is concerned unintentional inaccuracies or mistakes could lead to termination.

"If I believe something to be true and I can back it up with the facts that I have, then even if you say, 'Oh no, that didn't happen or can't happen,' -- that's not a lie. It's an interpretation of what I see," Dean said. "We want the investigators that are gonna be handling these cases -- specifically these very serious cases -- have the proper training, so that when they make a decision, it's a well informed, reasonable, intelligent decision."

Dean said his group and its members support the reform effort overall, and said he hopes to work with the superintendent on clearing up any “grey areas” in the dishonesty policy.

Monday, as Serpas unveiled the tougher penalties, he said they’re necessary to help the department improve and recover from the damaging actions of a handful of former officers.

"The selfish behavior of people's admitted comments during Katrina have ripped from the history books the tremendous bravery of so many men and women in this police department. Nobody talks about that, and -- rightfully so -- the insult committed on this community by those officers that have pled guilty is something we can never forget and will never forget," he said.

 

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