LSP Trooper Coates’ attorney, Brett Conrad: “LSP is essentially trying to cover its butts…, but the damage has already been done,” as revelations are made that approximately 460 LSP Troopers have been denied longevity pay raises.

LSP Master Trooper Dean Coates

We have extensively covered the plight of LSP Master Trooper Dean Coates entailing his allegation that he and other LSP Troopers have been denied longevity pay raises.  Coates has asserted, via a lawsuit against LSP, that only “chosen” troopers received the longevity pay raise.

We’re going to provide significant backup documentation regarding this highly-sensitive LSP matter; however, prior to supplying that documentation, we make a simple request for subscribers to invest 10 minutes of time to watch a video highlight of the entire matter which essentially covers the matter from inception to where it stands now:

LSP Master Trooper Dean Coates matter as discussed at the 4/24/19 LSP Retirement Board meeting and the 3/12/20 LSP Commission meeting.

Now, let’s itemize all that has transpired.  We’ll begin by stating that Coates’ intention was to retire in the Summer of 2019.  That’s why, as reflected at the beginning of the above video, he began attempting to resolve the matter of his denied salary boosts in early 2019.  As former LSP Retirement Board Executive Director Irwin Felps states at the outset of the video, the matter surfaced in February of 2019, and the Retirement Board requested an opinion from Attorney General Jeff Landry.  Felps clearly indicates on April 24, 2019 that the “opinion should arrive in the next 30 days.”  Despite that statement, we have been unsuccessful in our extensive attempts to locate the opinion on the AG’s website; furthermore, when we made inquiry regarding the opinion, we were told the matter remains “in research.”

In the above video, Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) member Brian Crawford manages to uncover the fact that Coates’ final three-year salary is reduced (according to Coates) by “six percent” for the period of “2016, 2017, 2018, and half of 2019.”  Crawford then makes the observation that, since pensions are computed using the highest three-year average salary, the denied pay raises will impact Coates for the rest of his life and potentially his spouse’s life depending upon what retirement option Coates chooses.

Crawford’s point is precisely why LSP has been so adamant that any pay raise, should one be granted to Coates, be prospective rather than retroactive.  At the February LSPC meeting, LSP legal counsel Michele Giroir drove that point home as LSP’s only commentary on Coates’ request (see from 4:48 – 4:58 of video link just provided).  The reason LSP is so adamantly against retroactive application is that, as Crawford managed to uncover at the LSPC meeting yesterday (as readily depicted on the feature video), there are approximately 460 troopers in the same boat as Coates, and retroactive application to all troopers who didn’t receive the pay raises would have an enormous adverse financial impact upon the LSP Retirement fund (which has likely already been severely adversely impacted by the recent stock market plunge, but we plan a separate feature on that matter).

So, here’s the deal:

1.  Coates begins making waves about being denied the longevity pay raise despite the fact other “chosen” troopers have received the raises.

2.  Feeling he was getting nowhere with LSP upper brass (or perhaps getting nothing but the runaround), Coates files a complaint with the LSPC dated September 20, 2019.  The complaint is an interesting read, and we’ll highlight below his final statements regarding LSP:

It is not fair to benefit one group while disadvantaging another group within the same Department and doing the same job. This is not consistent with the State Police Core Values we strive to uphold. I have provided my Department every opportunity to correct this unfair and selective disbursement of funds and dishonorable act of deciding which rules to follow and which rule to ignore. We as troopers would not allow the public the Ignore laws In this way. I have been denied the benefits owed to me, I hope the leadership of my Department will understand that I am doing what I have to do for my family and myself to be paid the salary that I am owed.

3.  The LSPC, at its October 10, 2019 meeting, agrees to investigate Coates’ complaint and instructs Executive Director Jason Hannaman to draft a report of his investigation’s findings.

4.  Fearing his prescription period may lapse, Coates files a lawsuit against LSP on October 11, 2019 [LSP has filed exceptions of prematurity, lack of standing to sue, and a dilatory exception; however, the court file doesn’t reflect service having yet been perfected upon Coates’ attorney, Jill Craft].

5.  Hannaman releases his investigative report in February of 2020.

6.  Based upon Hannaman’s report, LSPC, at its February 13, 2020 meeting, emphatically states that LSP violated rules entailing not alerting the LSPC of layoff avoidance notices in order to justify withholding the pay raises otherwise due Coates and many other LSP troopers.  The LSPC leaves the window open for LSP to appear before it to remedy its rules violations by seeking retroactive notice of a layoff avoidance measure.

7.  At the March 12, 2020 LSPC meeting, the entirety of the meeting being readily available by clicking here, LSP seeks such retroactive implementation of a layoff avoidance notice in order to justify withholding the longevity pay raises from those troopers who did not receive the pay raises.  In watching the entirety of the meeting’s content, both Hannaman and Lt. Col. Jason Starnes go to great lengths to emphasize the existence of budgetary problems at the state level, resulting in numerous Special Sessions of the Louisiana Legislature, as evidence to support a contention that financial constraints existed which would justify withholding the pay raises even though no layoff avoidance notices were submitted to the LSPC by LSP.

We’ll conclude with two quick observations.  First, as pointed out by one long-time LSP critic who has viewed the video of the meeting, it’s a little disappointing that no commission member asked how many troopers actually received the pay raises and where the money came from for those raises.

We’ll suggest that, perhaps no commissioner wanted to pose the question to LSP because they didn’t want to embarrass LSP’s administration into having to admit to the following answer (derived from Act XVIII of the “original LSP Rip Off webpage” created during the height of the “Edmonson Amendment” scandal in 2014):

June 4, 2015

Louisiana Legislature, with strong assurances from Col. Edmonson that “taxpayers won’t have to pay a dime,” passes legislation to fine uninsured motorists to fund 30% – 40% pay raises. 

October 21, 2015

A backlash develops when many people claim erroneous notices received are pure shake downs for money.   Collections from legitimate notices are indicated to be a pittance, thus making the funding for the pay raise a function of taking the money from other areas of the budget.

Our second observation is that we find it interesting that Hannaman’s report was not released to Coates and his attorney until the very day of the February LSPC meeting.

The supposed rationale behind that is the fact that the report is generic in nature and not intended to be geared specifically to Coates.  That’s fair enough, but it begs the question of why Coates is now forced to pay an attorney out of his own pocket for the brief that the LSPC now requires of him within the next two weeks (see end of feature video).  He’ll have little choice but to cover that cost himself since, as several commenters made note of at the bottom of our February LSPC meeting feature, the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association, perhaps only representing the interests of the “chosen” troopers who did receive the raises, is AWOL for this entire matter as it pertains to Coates and the approximate other 460 impacted troopers.

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