The NOPD Consent Decree….
On Friday, September 27, 2013, a federal appeals court rejected New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s request to undo the consent decree between the NOPD and the Justice Department which called for sweeping reforms in the New Orleans Police Department. On Friday the court ruled that the city’s arguments are not valid, and do not warrant release from the legal agreement.
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Landrieu’s argument that conditions and circumstances had changed considerably since January, when the mayor’s administration urged a federal judge to approve the decree.
According to Landrieu, the decree should be abandoned because of two new factors: a separate consent decree for Orleans Parish Prison; and new revelations of comments on NOLA.com by former assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone, one of the U.S. Department of Justice’s chief negotiators.
In 2010 Landrieu asked the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into certain allegations of constitutional violations, as well as other discriminatory policies in the NOPD, which resulted in a proposed a consent decree.
At first, the Landrieu administration was supportive of the consent decree that would have brought the Justice Department into the NOPD in order to oversee sweeping reforms. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan signed the consent decree on Jan. 11.
In February, the city filed notice that it would ask the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to review Judge Morgan’s decision to endorse the federal consent decree. The administration of Mayor Landrieu argued that the city could not afford to carry out the NOPD consent decree while there was a separate agreement aimed at reforming conditions at Orleans Parish Prison which Sherriff Marlin N. Gusman first estimated would cost the city roughly $22 million a year for at least two years, or about $45 million total.
The appellate judges in their dismissal of the city´s claim stated that the city’s argument that “it had no knowledge of the potential cost ramifications” of the OPP lawsuit, recalling that an attorney for the city participated in OPP consent decree negotiations — in which the $45 million figure was whittled down to $34.5 million — one month before it urged the district court to approve the NOPD consent decree.
“The record clearly demonstrates that the city was fully informed of the likely cost of complying with the OPP consent decree well before it signed the NOPD consent decree and urged the district court to approve it,” the ruling read. The appellate judges further argued that there was no significant change in the city’s financial ability to cover the cost of both consent decrees between approving the NOPD consent decree and attempting to withdraw from it. The judges also rebuffed the suggestion that the decision to enter into the NOPD consent decree was in any way influenced by Perricone’s online postings, stating: “the city does not identify any way that it was prevented from ‘fully and fairly presenting its case, and that “substantial independent evidence of problems related to the paid detail system was brought to the investigators by the public, NOPD officers, local judges and federal law enforcement officials during the investigation of the NOPD,”
Will see how this issue moves forward now. But in the meantime, we have a link included below sent to us by a friend that might be of interest to our readers. As part of the consent decree, NOPD officers are to wear body cameras.
Check for yourself what is like.