Friday, July 11, 2008

NOPD officer punished for wearing the wrong uniform
by Brendan McCarthy, The Times-Picayune

With minutes left in the last shift of his 35-year New Orleans police career, Sgt. Bobby Guidry received a call from a supervisor telling him he had been suspended for wearing the wrong uniform shirt, the veteran officer said.

The Police Department confirmed the censure Tuesday, though it quibbled with the term "suspended." Rather, Guidry is "under investigation for wearing the wrong uniform," said Police Department spokesman Bob Young.

Instead of the standard-issue all-black uniform, Guidry, a veteran officer in the city's Uptown 2nd District, chose the powder-blue uniform shirt that he wore to work for more than three decades.

He viewed it as a simple statement, not an affront to rules or department leadership.

"Eighteen people died in the line of duty in that powder-blue shirt while I was with the department," Guidry said. "I went to each of those funerals. I wore that shirt on a Saturday, on my last day, out of respect for them."

Police brass apparently didn't appreciate the sartorial statement, which took place June 28. Young said the improper uniform complaint originated in the 2nd District. The department's Public Integrity Bureau then opened a formal investigation with about 15 minutes left in Guidry's career.

The punishment will not affect Guidry's pension or benefits, but, as it stands now, he will not receive his retired police commission and will not be accepted into the NOPD's reserve unit, for which he had applied, Young said.

Superintendent Warren Riley, who could not be reached for comment, was apprised of the investigation, Young said.

Young said Riley stressed that "an officer has to maintain professionalism at all times, whether it is his first or last day."

For Guidry, the whole affair turned what might have been a bittersweet day simply bitter.

Guidry said a Police Department investigator called him and suggested he "write a letter to the chief and apologize."

He hasn't done that yet.

"What do I apologize for?" Guidry said. "I wore the wrong shirt. . . . I'll take a letter of reprimand, but a suspension? That's rough."

Guidry's attorney, Eric Hessler, said the retired officer will cooperate with investigators but appeal the disciplinary action. He called the timing of the reprimand particularly disrespectful to Guidry's many years of service.

"He was literally moving his stuff from his office into his car," Hessler said Tuesday. "He was basically done."

On his last day, Guidry said his supervisor advised him that he was suspended and a city employee called him days later with the same news. He has since received no paperwork or formal reprimand, and he said he hasn't been interviewed by NOPD internal investigators.

Young disagreed with the term "suspended," but he said Guidry's permanent record will reflect that he "retired under investigation."

The powder-blue uniform shirt had been worn by officers since the Police Department's inception. Riley changed the uniform after Hurricane Katrina to all-black uniforms.

"A lot of uniforms were displaced after the storm, and they wanted to eliminate the possibility of uniforms getting into the hands of criminals," Young said of the change.

Some officers protested the change. Many complained that the all-black uniform was too hot and that it bucked tradition.

Riley, in what some in the Police Department call a move to boost morale, recently announced that the department would revert to powder-blue shirts, probably by the first of the year.

NOPD officer Robert L. Guidry in 2005

Riley says officer who wore wrong uniform shirt was appropriately punished

by Brendan McCarthy, The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley said that a 35-year police veteran who was reprimanded for wearing the wrong uniform shirt just 15 minutes before he was set to retire was appropriately punished.

"He suffered the consequences of his actions," Riley said.

Sgt. Bobby Guidry, of the 2nd District, said Tuesday he was advised on his last day, June 28, that he was suspended for wearing the old powder-blue uniform shirt.

The NOPD says he was reprimanded, not suspended, and that an internal investigation was opened into the matter. Guidry is considered to be "retired under investigation" which affects his police commission and denies him the chance of working as a reserve officer.

Guidry said Tuesday he had not received any follow-up phones calls or disciplinary letters, and has not been interviewed by internal investigators. He said he was trying to make a statement by honoring the collegues who passed away in the blue shirt while he was on the force.

Speaking Wednesday morning at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a New Orleans Police division headquarters, Riley also said he was dismayed about the action of Officer Donyell Sanchell, who last weekend led Crescent City Connection police on a high-speed pursuit, then allegedly grazed a bridge officer with his vehicle and slapped him. He was cited with a municipal summons for battery and issued traffic citations.

"Was I disappointed? Absolutely," Riley said. "It's embarrassing for the New Orleans Police Department."

Riley noted that the matter is still under investigation by the Crescent City Connection police and that the NOPD is conducting its own internal administrative investigation. Sanchell has been suspended without pay.

"I will render the most appropriate decision," Riley said of the possible punishment, which he noted could range from a reprimand to termination.

Article 1 Source

Article 2 Source

What a sad, petty commentary on the state of police administration.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home