NEWORLEANS-- Mayor Mitch Landrieu expressed renewed concern about the high cost of the monitor chosen to oversee the New Orleans Police Department consent decree. It caused an impasse between the city and the Justice Department in selecting the federal watchdog.
The NOPD Consent Decree Monitor began working this week to oversee implementation of the court-ordered reforms of the New Orleans Police Department. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan ordered the City of New Orleans to sign a contract with Washington, D.C. law firm Sheppard Mullin last week, breaking an impasse in negotiations between the city and the Department of Justice over what the firm would be allowed to charge the city.
Deputy Mayor and CAO Andy Kopplin said Tuesday that the monitors will soon be billing the city by the hour for their work.
'The per hour prices, again $491.91 per hour, that's a $1 million-a-year kind of salary, and $405 for associate lawyers is just way outside the league. It's Washington, D.C. alligator shoes lawyer prices the taxpayers of New Orleans are gonna have to pay for because of this judge's order,' Kopplin said.
The judge laid out Sheppard Mullin's rates in her order Friday. It's a five year, up to $8.5 million dollar contract that the city is required to sign.
'The price of the Sheppard Mullen firm that the judge selected is $1.4 million more than the firm that the city recommended to the judge,' Kopplin said.
City leaders set aside money in the NOPD budget for the consent decree this year. Where it will come from over the next four and a half years is the operative question. Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson has asked the feds to let her assist in the oversight.
'We definitely intend to talk to him about seeing if we can help him. We can share some of that workload for them. We're gonna be doing it anyways. We're not gonna stop what we're doing just because the consent decree is here,' Hutson said.
'The Independent Monitor made that pitch to the court earlier. And the court said that there's a proper for the independent police monitor to play and the court made that decision as well,' Kopplin said.
Despite the controversial costs, Hutson said she does feel like Judge Susie Morgan did pick the right firm for the job.
Meanwhile, the city is still appealing, trying to get out from under the consent decree all together because of the high cost.
Attorneys for Sheppard Mullin didn't return calls Tuesday to comment.