Consent decree monitor holds meeting after first report on NOPD reforms

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wwltv.com

Posted on December 3, 2013 at 11:29 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 3 at 11:40 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- The man tasked to watch over the NOPD's compliance with a consent decree says the ball is rolling. However, certain policies like use of force, Tasers and K-9 units still need review.

The NOPD Consent Decree Monitor met with community members in Treme on Tuesday night.

"It was supposed to be within 90 days, so many tasks completed. Your report says they were only partially completed," said Malcolm Suber with Community United for Change.

On Tuesday night community members met inside Joseph Craig Elementary School in Treme to hear the findings of the NOPD Consent Decree Monitor's 59-page First Quarterly Report.

It gives the NOPD a rating of "incomplete" in four categories, including developing a schedule for policy manuals, an early-warning system to evaluate officer performance and testing officer equipment like car cameras.

"If they're not usable, they're not going to be trained well, if they're not trained well. It's not going to be - you're not going to see it implemented on the street," said NOPD Federal Consent Decree Monitor Jonathan Aronie.

He's leading the Washington, D.C. law firm being paid to watch over the decree. The report criticizes the NOPD for implementing policies without the Monitoring Group and Department of Justice's approval which is part of the decree.

"It's designed to make sure that the police department doesn't train on inadequate policies and then have to go back and incur the time and expense and confusion caused by having to untrain officers and retrain them on new policies," Aronie said.

"I think we'll be able to watch the police department transform before our very eyes," said Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

Goyeneche said the NOPD started implementing much-needed policy reforms back in 2010 before the federal monitor was even chosen. He says the monitor's quarterly report mentions new policies being adopted without proper federal review. However, many of those new policies pre-date the federal monitor.

"The police department didn't want to wait three years to revise its policies and procedures," said Goyeneche.

As the New Orleans Police Department works to adopt the consent decree, community members say they hope the oversight process continues, long after the federal monitors go.

"When they leave we need a mechanism in place that's going to keep what's happening on going," said community activist Donald Chopin.

NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas issued this statement in response to the Monitor's Quarterly report:

"We are committed to creating a world class police department. As the report indicates, the current NOPD leadership and rank and file officers are committed to reform. We started taking aggressive steps to improve training, policy and procedures shortly after I came on as Chief, and many months before the Department of Justice offered its advice on how to strengthen the NOPD."

The next meeting with the NOPD Consent Decree Monitor will take place Wednesday night in New Orleans East at 7:30 p.m. It will be held at the St. Maria Goretti Center on Crowder Boulevard.

 

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