The following is an NOPD news release:
Today, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison outlined actions the department has taken following an OIG inquiry into the actions of five Special Victims Section (SVS) detectives in collaboration with the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau (PIB).
“As the Chief of Police, I am deeply disturbed by the allegations in this report,” said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison. “It is our sworn duty to protect and serve, and we take that duty very seriously. In this case, it appears these five detectives may have neglected that duty, and as a police department, we won't tolerate it. Victims don't have time to wait, and they deserve better.”
PIB partnered with the OIG from the start of the investigation to root out problems outlined in the inquiry. When cases involving child abuse allegations were discovered, PIB immediately followed-up on each case to ensure that the children were in a safe environment. All of the children in those cases are safe at this time.
Systems of Accountability in Place
All five detectives outlined in the report have been transferred out of the SVS and systems of accountability are now in place at every level to ensure the lack of performance by the detectives and supervisors outlined in the report never happens again. To ensure that each case identified by the OIG is investigated properly, Chief Harrison appointed a special task force to conduct a comprehensive review of all investigations handled by these detectives during their assignment in SVS.
Chief Harrison replaced leadership at every level over SVS with the appointments of Deputy Chief Rannie Mushatt over the Investigations and Support Bureau, Commander Daryl Albert over the Criminal Investigations Division and Commander Gervais Allison over the Special Victims Section.
Among the systematic reforms:
Detectives are now required to use a new standardized investigative checklist as part of investigations that requires supervisor verification that the work is being done; SVS is now sending a minimum of 10 sexual assault kits every week to the Louisiana State Police for DNA testing to avoid a backlog; The SVS Commander and supervisors are required to attend all District Attorney Sex Crimes charge conferences; and New protocols are in place to enable NOPD to connect victims to service providers, including the New Orleans Family Justice Center and the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. Comprehensive Reform
Over the past four years, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the NOPD have made protecting women and children from violence a top priority, pushing forward a cultural shift at the department on handling domestic violence and sexual assault crimes.
“That's why we've worked so hard to clear the backlog of rape kits, implement better policies and training requirements and launch a comprehensive domestic violence initiative,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “We are going to get this right, knowing that real and lasting reform of the NOPD requires extensive training, tough accountability measures and hard work every single day.”
The Consent Decree outlines specific policy, training and techniques to prevent gender bias in policing and the NOPD is actively working with the federal consent decree monitor and the Department of Justice to implement these measures. The NOPD cleared a backlog of 800 sexual assaults kits, is implementing an Integrated Domestic Violence Protocol with the Family Justice Center, and has already conducted over 2,700 hours of training on this issue.
Last month, the City of New Orleans announced that it is taking it a step further with the Blueprint for Safety Initiative. Working with federal, state and local partners more than ever before, it will ensure a coordinated response to domestic violence. The NOPD will begin training on the Blueprint for Safety this month.
This week, PIB launched a formal investigation on each of the five detectives outlined in the OIG report. If the allegations prove to be true, Chief Harrison will pursue immediate disciplinary action which could include termination and criminal prosecution.
“There is no place for this type of behavior in our department. I am committed to getting this right and continuing to work to rebuild the trust between our officers and our community,” said Harrison.
“I thank the Inspector General and his team for working with the NOPD in partnership to root out these very serious problems. I am confident that we have a leadership team with great integrity and that we are putting in place training and accountability measures to ensure this never happens again.”