NEW ORLEANS - Photographs and memories will never truly fill the void for those whose loved ones have lost their lives at the hands of the very people tasked with protecting them. Jasmine Groves knows firsthand.
On October 13, 1994, her mother was the victim of a shocking murder for hire orchestrated by New Orleans Police Officer Len Davis. It happened after Kim Groves reported Davis for police brutality. Davis now sits on death row.
Eighteen years later, Jasmine Groves continues to hold an annual memorial for her mother in the Ninth Ward. This year, the memorial was expanded to include half a dozen people who have been killed by New Orleans police officers.
"No matter how long ago it was, to know my mom was planning for my birthday party when she got killed, that's a hard pill to swallow," said Jasmine Groves, who turned 13 the day after her mother's murder.
When asked how far the police department has come in the last 18 years, Jasmine Groves answered, "Truly? Nowhere. We need to get better."
And those like Groves hope the sweeping changes in the federal consent decree, a historic blueprint for overhauling the NOPD, will help prevent another innocent person from being murdered at the hands of an officer.
Both the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of New Orleans have approved the landmark plan for overhauling the NOPD's policies and procedures. Now, it's awaiting the signature of a federal judge charged with making sure the document meets expectations.
"I think the consent decree is probably going to be the turning point in the history of the New Orleans Police Department," said U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. "Remember, this is the most comprehensive consent decree in the history of this country."
Letten said the NOPD has already begun making some meaningful reforms.
"I think we've come a long way but we can never let up," said Letten. "We can never get complacent."
"We've come a long way but we still have a ways to go," said independent police monitor Susan Hutson.
Hutson said her two-year-old office is underfunded and understaffed and should play a bigger role in the NOPD's overhaul.
"We're already here, we're already on the ground monitoring," said Hutson.
Jasmine Groves agrees, saying she looks forward to continuing her mother's legacy of pushing for change in the NOPD.
U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan does not have a timeline for signing the consent decree. When she does, it will be in effect for at least four years.