Federal monitors say NOPD could be in full compliance with consent decree in the coming months

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 11:44 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Federal monitors say the NOPD is on track to soon be released from the consent decree.

“We have made great significant strides over the last 8 years, and we are committed to constitutional policing,” says Chief Shaun Ferguson.

While there’s more work to be done, the monitors moved the NOPD’s public integrity bureau and recruitment into full compliance.

Chief Shaun Ferguson says the biggest challenge with PIB was ensuring supervisors were conducting thorough investigations.

“In any type of misconduct investigation, being use of force, administrative investigations or what have you,” says Ferguson.

The department is voluntarily releasing body worn camera footage, in an effort to be transparent. It’s not a requirement of the consent decree, but Chief Ferguson says that extra step gained the federal monitor’s attention.

“I think that is important with regards to transparency and public trust. That is what it’s all about to ensure the public’s trust,” says Ferguson.

“I think they’ve done a great job,” says Peter Scharf, Ph.D.

LSU Health criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf applauds some of the reforms, but says there’s more to be done in stops, searches and arrests, and bias free policing.

“We’ve got to find a way to identify problem people, criminals, to get them off the street, and still obey constitutional policing. That is more difficult than what most people realize,” says Scharf.

“At the end of the day, we are looking for better documentation, and we’ve put together a plan with monitors to do that, and I think by the end of the summer we should see that coming into full compliance as well,” says Ferguson.

Once the NOPD achieves full compliance with the consent decree, federal monitoring will continue for another two years, but it’ll be less intense and less expensive.

“Since the 2011 DOJ report, you can clearly see how this is a different department today, then it was back then,” says Ferguson.

Scharf says the NOPD will have to sustain the reforms to become a long term high integrity police department. The results could take years.

“So, in five years, if this is one of the top tier police departments in the United States, we’ll look back at the consent decree era, and say this was a great investment,” says Scharf.

The consent decree is costly for the city of New Orleans. It cost about $15,000 a month. That money comes from the NOPD’s budget.

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