ZURIK: Cameras show NOPD officer’s vehicles far away from paid detail shifts

Attention to Details: License Plate Readers Pt. 1
Attention to Details: License Plate Readers Pt. 1
Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 10:03 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Two days after Thanksgiving 2021, the management company that runs the Superdome paid NOPD officer Wayne Jacque for 11 hours of off-duty detail work, to help navigate traffic for the Bayou Classic game.

The game kicked off at 4 p.m., but just one hour before it started, as traffic picked up, Jacque wasn’t helping his fellow NOPD officers at the Superdome. Instead, a license plate reader camera shows his unit was about a mile away, at Orleans Avenue and I-10.

A week earlier, on Nov. 20, Jacque had an off-duty detail at the Colombia Parc apartment complex. That detail was scheduled from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. but about halfway through his shift, at 9:12 a.m., a license plate camera snapped a picture of his NOPD vehicle on the Westbank, at the intersection of General De Gaulle and Shirley Drives. That’s across the river, and about 10 miles away from his paid detail shift.

Tulane Law professor Joel Friedman says the findings could be indicative of a larger problem within the NOPD.

“This is terrible,” said Friedman. “This shows about the cancerous nature of the police department.”

Since November 2021, FOX 8 investigations have shown NOPD officers abusing the detail program. That included examples of officers double-dipping by doing details and regularly scheduled shifts at the same time, officers breaking policy, and officers claiming to do detail work while racing a car or walking the dog.

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Now, FOX 8 has uncovered images from license plate cameras that show an NOPD officer’s unit miles away at times from the detail work he was paid for. There are more than 100 license plate reader cameras scattered across the city.

FOX 8 reviewed Jacque’s detail shifts and compared them to each time one of those license plate readers captured his police unit driving in the city. In November and December of 2021, FOX 8 uncovered 10 instances where the cameras caught Jacque’s NOPD unit at least a mile away from his detail shift.

That includes on Dec. 27 when the Saints played the Miami Dolphins in the Superdome. Kickoff for the Monday night game was 7 p.m., however, at 5:13 p.m., as fans arrived, a license plate camera caught Jacque’s NOPD unit a mile and a half away from the Superdome at Washington Avenue and Broad Street.

Jacque is part of the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau (PIB), a select group of officers responsible for investigating complaints made against fellow officers. Friedman says the images show even PIB officers are flouting the rules.

“What’s worse is that it’s the PIB officers, who were the ones who were supposed to monitor this,” said Friedman. “And of course, we know that they didn’t for years … Because they were doing it also.”

Donovan Livaccari is an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and a former police officer. He told Fox 8 when he worked the Superdome detail more than 20 years ago, officers were allowed to take breaks, and even leave the downtown area.

“Once the game’s kicked off, then the officers that were holding down traffic assignments were all put on break,” said Livaccari. “They were free to do whatever they wanted to do if they were able to get back in a timely fashion. So, you couldn’t leave and go to Mississippi... you wouldn’t be able to get back in time to finish the job.”

“I’m confident that Sergeant Wayne Jacque is a hardworking and honest guy. I mean he has served the city now for I think 28 years and I think the city has benefited from the service,” said Livaccari.

Livaccari believes there are explanations for all of the instances, and says what Jacque told him about detail work matched his experiences when he was a police officer.

Livaccari issued a statement to FOX 8 addressing two of the instances where the license plate-reading camera captured Jacque’s vehicle on the Westbank while he was supposed to be doing details. He said on Nov. 20, Jacque had another officer cover four hours of his detail shift, and that the license plate reader is located near the NOPD gas pump in Algiers.

He also said that on Nov. 27, while Jacque was being paid for a detail at the Superdome for the Bayou Classic, records show he fueled up his police vehicle at the same Algiers gas pump during that time.

It’s unclear why he didn’t use the station in Mid-City, but Livaccari confirms Jacque does live on the Westbank.

FOX 8 also asked the NOPD for license plate records on other officers as well. That request was expected to be fulfilled by May 9, but as of May 11, FOX 8 hadn’t received the documents.

However, Friedman thinks after seeing the findings, the NOPD needs to take a closer look at Jacque, as well as other officers who might have abused the detail system.

“Somebody has to take responsibility for this,” said Friedman. “This is humiliating for the police department, and again, as always, for the good police officers, which are the overwhelming majority, who see this kind of stuff going on with no repercussions … This destroys morale inside the police department.”

The NOPD has an administrative investigation into Jacque, which the department says is still pending.

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