Mayor Cantrell to push to end the NOPD consent decree, some say it will take more to stop attrition
The announcement is one of a series of measures Mayor LaToya Cantrell plans to take to stop officer attrition at NOPD.
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For nearly a decade, the New Orleans Police Department has operated under a federal consent decree agreement with the Department of Justice, with the decree governing systematic reforms at the department. Now, Mayor LaToya Cantrell plans to make the case for the consent decree to be ended, saying NOPD has fulfilled all necessary categories.
At a press conference Thursday, Mayor Cantrell told reporters she has been having conversations with officers over the past week, and one theme has stuck out: the consent decree is contributing to a culture of overly punitive discipline.
“They want recognition for a job well done, and not to be handcuffed when they know how to police and they know how to effectively do their jobs,” Mayor Cantrell said. “Our officers right now, are not responsible for us getting into that consent decree, but they have been responsible for the results that have been demonstrated moving from red to green.”
In the decade NOPD has been under the consent decree, the department has made substantial improvements in a range of categories including use of force, crisis intervention, stop, search and arrest. But Cantrell said the burdens that are placed on officers due to the consent decree, like extraordinary amounts of paperwork, are decreasing morale.
She also said reforms at the Public Integrity Bureau (or PIB) are necessary, but didn’t go in-depth on what kinds of policy changes could be made.
“In regards to the policy shifts, it really would pertain to, in terms of disciplinary actions relative to officers,” Cantrell said. “The consent decree has an impact on PIB.”
Mike Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, gave Cantrell credit for ending the consent decree.
“We’re 10 years into a six-year consent decree, so we’re pleased with that,” he said. “Whether or not that’s going to be effective, I don’t know. Whether or how long it takes to become effective, I don’t know that either. It’s certainly a good gesture.”
Glasser said one officer is leaving the force, on average, every two days. Mayor Cantrell said, during the press conference, that just last week there were at least nine officers who left, one of whom retired.
He expressed doubt, saying that it will take more than ending the consent decree to stop the bleeding at NOPD.
“The biggest thing, once again, their own survey showed them, the exit interviews showed them all the time, we’ve been telling them for a long time, is the Public Integrity Bureau and the disciplinary process,” Glasser said. “They’re looking for some fairness and equity in the disciplinary system, first and foremost. Until we get an overhaul of PIB, and I’m not talking focus groups and meetings and talk. Until there is an overhaul of PIB, you will not stop the attrition at this police department.”
Back in April, FOX 8 reported on a meeting between NOPD leadership, federal consent decree monitors and Judge Susie Morgan. Morgan said, at the time, that it was very likely the department would be able to move into substantial compliance in all categories by the summer.
“I think we’re at the point, after 10 years, and judging by the evaluations that they do, whether you think they’re valid or not, that [NOPD is] a model in terms of what they’re doing thus far,” said Ashraf Esmail, criminal justice program coordinator at Dillard University. “[Judge Morgan] highlighted a little work on the community aspect of this, as well as stop and frisk.”
Morgan said, at the time, that reaching substantial compliance in all categories would mark the start of a two-year sustainment period, in which monitors would keep getting paid by the city to keep an eye on the department’s progress.
But Cantrell said she will push to end the consent decree immediately.
FOX 8 reached out to the Mayor’s Office for clarification on where Cantrell stands on the sustainment period, but did not receive a response.
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