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A look at the agreement between OPSO and out-of-town officers for Mardi Gras

WWL-TV has an exclusive look at the guidelines.
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NEW ORLEANS — When roughly 100 deputies and officers from across Louisiana come into New Orleans to help the shorthanded New Orleans Police Department, they’ll be operating under a set of guidelines laid out by the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office.

WWL-TV has obtained a copy of the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement drawn up by OPSO, which will have to be agreed upon and signed by any sheriff’s department or police department sending officers to help in New Orleans for carnival.

According to the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, the copy we obtained is a basic agreement. Some departments negotiated with OPSO and signed slight variations of this basic agreement.

Staffing shortages initially forced NOPD to condense parade routes, but in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office and Mardi Gras Advisory Council, city law enforcement was able to secure dozens of additional officers from across Louisiana to come into town and help with crowd control.

Per the CEA, all deputies and officers coming in as supplemental security must have an up-to-date Level 1 LAPOST Basic Training certification, which is completed in Louisiana, and two years of job experience.

There will be no special training, and the sheriff’s office says they believe that is sufficient for the detail work being asked of out-of-town officers. In an email, OPSO wrote to Eyewitness News, “The CEA doesn’t require any sort of special training because of the limited nature of their support.”

They’ll be asked to assist in crowd control, making sure vendors and parade attendees are following state and parish laws, and supporting NOPD for any arrests.

We asked the sheriff’s office about jurisdiction, and which department would be responsible for an investigation or discipline if something goes wrong. 

Deputies and officers in this capacity are being viewed as “independent contractors” of the Orleans Sheriff. They will be assigned by the Orleans Parish Sheriff, but will wear the equipment, badge, uniforms, and weapons issued by their home parish. At all times, those officers will be considered employees of their home department, and subject to the laws and regulations of those departments.

However, the agreement protects the home Sheriff’s offices from liability and responsibility for their deputies’ actions. The ‘liability’ article in the document reads, “The Orleans Sheriff shall assume all liability for and defend against any claim for damages for injury to person or property caused by the fault, negligence or intentional conduct of the participating deputy sheriffs when acting pursuant to the Orleans Sheriff’s special officer commissions issued under this Agreement.”

The Orleans Parish Sheriff will be providing professional liability insurance before officers come to town.

The cost to the city will rack up quickly, too. Visiting law enforcement will be paid $50 per hour for each parade day leading up to Mardi Gras Day, and $75 per hour for Mardi Gras Day. Officers from outside Orleans Parish are also entitled to a $64 per diem, and mileage reimbursement of 65.5 cents per mile.

The CEA gets detailed about officers checking in and out and how checks will be distributed. But overall, it lays out specific guidelines meant to protect both parties as Mardi Gras gets ready to roll in 2023.

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