Community fires tough questions at NOPD consent decree monitor

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 24, 2013 at 10:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 25 at 8:02 AM

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

NEW ORLEANS -- Community members fired tough questions at the new, NOPD federal consent decree monitor in Mid-City. A community meeting was held Tuesday night to meet the man and the Washington, D.C.-based law firm chosen to make sure the New Orleans Police Department shapes up.

"Danzinger makes this even more important, because once again the people of New Orleans are being robbed of justice," said W.C. Johnson with Community United For Change.

After high-profile cases involving NOPD officers, like in the Danziger Bridge shootings and the shooting death of Wendell Allen, who was killed by a police officer in Gentilly, the NOPD consent decree is finally moving forward.

"Wendell Allen was my student. I was a teacher at Frederick Douglass," said Adisa Lois Adams, who sat in the audience to hear what the new NOPD Federal Consent Decree Monitor had to say.

At the helm of enforcing the 124-page decree is Jonathan Aronie of Washington, D.C. law firm Sheppard Mullin.

"This is my rule book, not only the rule book for NOPD and the city. But it's the rule book that governs what we as a team do," Aronie said.

The agreement spells out out a series of requirements for overhauling the police department's policies and procedures for use of force, training, interrogation, searches and arrests, recruitment and supervision. Aronie was flanked by two members of his team listening as citizens weighed in on the process.

"I'm very concerned about the training, how that's going to happen, [and] these minimum sentences that police eventually get," said Adams.

Another criticism voiced at the meeting is the fact that the firm chosen to enforce the decree has no local ties.

"I'm very disappointed when I come to these meetings and I don't see the community activists on the front lines," said another audience member.

NOPD Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson was also in attendance. She said she looks forward to working with the federal monitor moving forward.

"We're going to work with the courts monitor to the extent that they will let us. We know they have a job to do. The one thing I told Mr. Aronie and his whole staff, whatever we have, you can have," said Hutson, who also admitted her office continues to work with limited resources.

As the NOPD federal monitor comes up with a game plan to help implement the consent decree, community members made one thing very clear -- they'll be watching.

"We are going to make sure that this monitor does to the letter of the law what it's being paid to do," added Johnson.

Aronie told audience members that more community meetings will be planned in the future as his team moves forward with implementing the consent decree. That process is estimated to cost the city $55 million over a five-year period.

 

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