NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans Police Department says a new report by a consent decree monitor, pointing out deficiencies in the long-running reform program, does not provide an accurate assessment of progress.
Many thought the department had achieved most of its goals, but the decree monitor says not so.
The NOPD had hoped to get out of the expensive consent decree soon but the new report makes it clear there is still work to do and major challenges when it comes to fighting crime.
“I do have concerns though this is very different from the information we received in the past,” said New Orleans City Councilman, and criminal justice committee chairman Jay Banks.
The consent decree monitor issued a report saying ‘the department has lagged in the areas of supervision, stop searches and arrests, and performance evaluations’ used to determine if police officers are making lawful arrests.
“How do we put into context both achievements of the gaps of performance, and we’ve had this huge rise in murders,” said LSU Health Sciences Criminologist Peter Scharf, Ph.D.
He is troubled by aspects of the report, and the consent decree. As is the head of the Police Association of New Orleans.
“I think it’s overburdened the police officers with so much rules and regulations that it’s almost prohibited proactive police work,” said PANO lawyer, and former officer, Eric Hessler.
New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson put out a statement saying the report does not provide an accurate assessment of the progress that has been made by the hard-working men and women at the department who are still in the middle of carrying the city through a global pandemic.
“I thought we had done what was necessary to get out of it and I was hoping we would be finished,” said Banks.
But PANO says the report was right on the mark when it criticized the department for not adequately testing supervisors, to ensure that rank and file officers are performing their duties in a constitutional manner.
“They need to be tested adequately and trained adequately and the training needs to continue,” said Hessler.
And though the monitor says there’s work to do, he’s not ruling out the possibility that the police department will come into compliance sometime in 2021.
Council criminal justice chairman Jay Banks says he will be reviewing the report to try and determine where we need to go from here. Mayor Cantrell’s office put out a statement saying ‘the mayor stands by Chief Ferguson and his leadership and is in full support of his statement regarding the matter.’
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