Police Assoc. asks federal judge for input on consent decree

The Police Association of New Orleans is asking a federal judge to allow the organization to give input into how the consent decree is carried out.

As a federal judge now considers whether to accept the consent decree negotiated by the city and the U.S. Justice Department, the city's second largest police organization has now filed a motion asking to be included in discussions on how the 124 page decree will be carried out.

"These officers on the street can live and die by it and for them not to have a say so or offer their opinion is very dangerous," said Eric Hessler, attorney for the Police Association of New Orleans.

The decree will set out policy about how police make stops and use force; decisions which can often mean life or death. However, there's no guarantee Judge Susie Morgan will allow PANO in.

"She has complete latitude. She can say let them in or  keep them out, or allow them in to give some input. That's up to her, she's a federal judge," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.

PANO's actions follow that taken earlier by the city's Independent Police Monitor, as well as the Fraternal Order of Police which says it wishes it could have gotten to the consent decree negotiating table a bit sooner.

"If you look at use of force, it's contradictory. On one hand it says an officer can't use force to overcome passive resistance, but state law allows the officer to use the force to make the arrest, " said Raymond Burkhart with the Fraternal Order of Police.

The consent decree addresses issues that PANO has been addressing for years. Certain policies just don't work," said Hessler.

The police want a seat at the consent decree table. It's now up to the judge to decide if there's enough room.

Judge Morgan will hold a status conference on the consent decree case Thursday morning at federal court. She has scheduled a hearing for later this month.