Why is there a Consent Decree?
In May 2010, the City invited the United States Department of Justice to conduct a full investigation of the New Orleans Police Department. As part of its investigation DOJ conducted a detailed fact-finding review, including numerous tours of NOPD facilities; interviews with New Orleans officials, NOPD command staff, supervisors, and police officers; review of more than 36,000 pages of documents; and meetings with residents, community groups, and other stakeholders within the City. DOJ issued a written report of its findings on March 16, 2011. The report documents DOJ's finding of a number of patterns or practices of unconstitutional conduct and details DOJ's concerns about a number of NOPD policies and practices.
To resolve the DOJ allegations, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana approved a Consent Decree. The Parties entered into the Consent Decree with the shared goal of ensuring that police services are delivered to the people of New Orleans in a manner that complies with the Constitution and laws of the United States. The Parties jointly recognize that the ability of the NOPD to protect the community it serves is only as strong as the relationship it has with that community; and that public safety, constitutional policing, and the community's trust in the NOPD are interdependent. The Parties believe that the Consent Decree will help protect the constitutional rights of all members of the community, improve the safety and security of the people of New Orleans, and increase public confidence in the New Orleans Police Department.
What does the Consent Decree require?
The Consent Decree requires that NOPD "fundamentally change the way it polices throughout the New Orleans Community." The Consent Decree requires the City and the NOPD to implement new policies, training, and practices throughout the Department, including in the areas of: use of force; stops, searches, seizures, and arrests; photographic lineups; custodial interrogations; discriminatory policing; community engagement; recruitment; training; performance evaluations; promotions; officer assistance and support; supervision; secondary employment; and misconduct-complaint intake, investigation, and adjudication. Additionally, the Consent Decree requires the appointment of a Monitor to serve as the eyes and ears of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana throughout the implementation of the Consent Decree by assessing and reporting on whether the requirements of the Consent Decree have been implemented and whether that implementation is resulting in the constitutional and professional treatment of individuals by the NOPD.
Why did the Court appoint a Monitor?
The Consent Decree Monitor plays a crucial role in ensuring that police services are delivered to the people of New Orleans in a manner that complies with the Constitution and laws of the United States. In order to ensure the independence of the monitoring effort, the agreement between the City, the NOPD, and the United States provides for a Monitor to oversee the implementation efforts for the next four years. The Monitor's job is to "assess and report whether the requirements of [the Consent Decree] have been implemented, and whether this implementation is resulting in the constitutional and professional treatment of individuals by NOPD." In order to perform its responsibility, the Monitor is required to conduct a number of "reviews, audits, and assessments." These include compliance reviews to determine whether the City and NOPD have "incorporated [the Consent Decree's requirements] into policy," "trained all relevant personnel as necessary," and "ensured that the requirement[s] [are] being carried out in actual practice. . . ." In the words of the United States District Court, "these are weighty responsibilities, ones that require a monitoring team made up "of individuals of the highest ethics."
Who is the Monitor?
On July 5, 2013, after a lengthy selection process, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana selected a team of police practice experts led by national law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP to serve as the Consent Decree Monitor in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Office of the Consent Decree Monitor is made up of former police chiefs, attorneys with significant investigation and civil rights experience, and leading academics. The monitoring team is led by Jonathan Aronie (the primary monitor) and David Douglass and Dennis Nowicki (the deputy monitors). The summary bios of all team members can be found here.
How can I get more involved?
The Consent Decree expressly contemplates community involvement in the Consent Decree process. Specifically, Paragraph 461 of the Consent Decree provides that the monitoring team "shall meet with community stakeholders to explain the Monitor's reports, to inform the public about the Agreement implementation process, and to hear community perspectives of police interactions." Here are some of the ways you can get involved in this important effort:
- Attend regular quarterly meetings and special meetings the Consent Decree Monitor will be hosting across the City throughout the life of the Consent Decree.
- Send the monitoring team your thoughts, ideas, comments, questions, and concerns by mail or e-mail.
NOPD Consent Decree MonitorBy E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
143 Lakewood Estates Drive
New Orleans, LA 70131
- Review and comment on the Monitor's quarterly reports.
- Attend the Community Outreach meetings that the NOPD will be hosting in each of its eight Districts. These meetings will be open to the public and led by the Superintendent or a Deputy. NOPD Outreach Meetings will be designed to inform thepublic about the requirements of the Consent Decree and the NOPD's progress toward meeting these requirements, and to address areas of community concern related to public trust and constitutional policing.
- Attend any of the various other community meetings hosted by the NOPD.
- Stay apprised of the activities of the Police Community Advisory Board.
- Visit the web site of the Independent Police Monitor to learn more about the important role the IPM plays in ensuring police accountability.
Is the Consent Decree Monitor different from the Independent Police Monitor?
Yes. The Independent Police Monitor (IPM) is an independent, civilian police oversight agency created in August of 2009. A Police Civilian Review Task Force recommended its implementation in 2002. In 2006, a coalition of community groups brought their concerns about New Orleans Police Department to the New Orleans City Council. By 2008, the city council supported the Police Monitor's Office in a resolution. In 2008, the Police Monitor's Office, along with the Office of Inspector General, were voted into the city charter by over 70% of the New Orleans Electorate.
In contrast, the Consent Decree Monitor is not an agency of the City of New Orleans. Rather the Consent Decree Monitor was appointed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to assess and report on the City's and the NOPD's compliance with the Consent Decree. The Consent Decree Monitor is subject to the supervision and orders of the United States District Court, and must operate strictly in accordance with the terms of the Consent Decree. The Consent Decree Monitor has only the duties, responsibilities, and authority conferred by the Consent Decree.
Can I submit a misconduct complaint to the Consent Decree Monitor?
No. Complaints regarding officer misconduct should be submitted to the NOPD or to the Independent Police Monitor (IPM).
You can file a complaint with the IPM in the following ways:
- File a complaint on line by completing the online form at www.nolaipm.org.
- Call the Independent Police Monitor Hotline at (504) 681-3217
- Send an email to email@example.com.
- Make an appointment by calling (504) 681-3223 to meet at the IPM office, located at 525 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130.
- Walk-in the IPM Office without an appointment any time between the hours of 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays.
- Mail your complaint to the IPM at 525 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130.
You can also file a complaint with the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau (NOPD PIB) by phone, by mail or in person at 118 North Rocheblave St., New Orleans, LA 70119 - (504) 658-6800.