NOPD says ‘departmental failures’ unfolded on the CCC when tear gas was deployed into crowd of protesters

Updated: Dec. 21, 2020 at 6:32 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson says there was a lack of planning and tactical decision-making that unfolded on the Crescent City Connection back in June when police deployed tear gas and rubber balls into a crowd of protesters.

On June 3, Chief Ferguson says a peaceful protest escalated and the NOPD made the decision to deploy teargas and rubber balls into the crowd.

The investigation into what happened took months and involved several organizations. That investigation revealed that the NOPD, even with a consent decree had no clear ‘use of force’ policy in place to deal with protesters.

He says steps are now being taken to make sure the NOPD’s engagement with protesters at night or never mimicked. A new policy will be in place that deals with open and clear communication and makes sure teargas is only used as a last resort.

He says the City Council also has an ordinance that deals with the NOPD’s use of force during protests.

“We created a policy that is still a draft with regards to ‘use of force’ in itself, but our policy when it deals with engagement, I think, the key is communication. We failed on that particular night to communicate to the peaceful protesters in the rear and they didn’t hear our commands as we were giving warnings to those who were not being peaceful,” Chief Ferguson said.

“The Police Chief, from the beginning of all of this, has been proactive to address the concerns to make our police department the best it can be. The policy in place now is that type of weapon can only be used in a life-threatening situation, and not used for crowd control. I think it’s the fair thing to do,” said New Orleans City Councilman Jay Banks.

Ferguson points out teargas and rubber balls will still be tools for the NOPD to use with the new policy, which will address when and how they’re used. He says several officers have already been through additional training. He says the NOPD stands with the people, but he says when violence enters the situation, the important message of police reform is lost.

Chief Ferguson says the NOPD wants to be at the forefront of modern policing.

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