NEW ORLEANS – The Police Department has reduced the number of force incidents and is working to make more data available to the public but still has “significant” work to do in those areas, according to the Office of the Independent Police Monitor.
Those will be among the 2016 annual report findings Police Monitor Susan Hutson will discuss Monday morning when she goes before the City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee during its 10 a.m. meeting in the council chamber.
Though use of force incidents are down, the amount of force used it up. “The greatest increase in the types of force used was officers pointing guns at individuals,” Hutson said. “Taser use is also a concern.”
Meanwhile, black residents are more likely to have physical force used against them, Hutson said.
“Given that black people make up a 60 percent majority of the city’s population, one might expect that black people would experience a similar majority of police for,” she said. But black residents were involved in 83 percent of all uses of force. “The amount of force used against black people appears to be disproportional," Hutson said.
A mediation program the Police Monitor offers to work out complaints saw more than 40 cases handled, with 92 percent of officers and 78 percent of civilians agreeing to mediate qualifying complaints.
Hutson said 100 percent of civilians who took part in the 2-year-old program said the mediation helped them better understand action police took, while 83 percent of civilian participants said they would share information about crime in their neighborhood with the officer in the mediation session.
Hutson said the NOPD should be commended for making more data available to the public, but the “integrity” of that data remains in question, she said.
“For example, NOPD does not maintain its own data on how many people it arrests, instead relying on numbers from the Sheriff's office,” Hutson said.