NEW ORLEANS — Superintendent of Police Shaun Ferguson announced Monday morning that the New Orleans Police Department had a new use-of-force policy.
The new policy was a result of an investigation into the violent exchange between NOPD officers and protesters attempting to cross the Cresent City Connection on June 3.
The superintendent was clear:
"When violence occurs, the message needed to be heard is lost in the chaos brought on by people with different agendas. The messages in these protests are very important — Police reform and improving our criminal justice system — needs to be heard. NOPD stands with you again."
Working with several police reform organizations and with the independent monitor and the consent decree monitor, the investigation into the use of tear gas, foam rounds, and rubber ball rounds found NOPD's use-of-force policy lacking.
"Our department did not have a policy in place to guide a response to protests, which resulted in department failures on the bridge that night," Ferguson said. "We have implemented a new policy governing our response to protests."
Ferguson said the new policy makes everyone's safety the number one priority, allowing tear gas and other special gear to be used only if life is in danger and only by officers properly trained to do so.
"We have now established a permanent group of officers who have undergone new training dedicated to responding to protests in events of civil unrest," Ferguson said. "We will continue to implement future training involved in de-escalation as well as communication, especially for communicating in crowds."
Literally leading the department into unprecedented times, Ferguson said the NOPD is working better how it serves its community.
"We here at NOPD strive to be at the forefront of modern policing and criminal justice reform," Ferguson said. "We will continue to be a model of reform and the beacon for Constitutional policing."
In his last few words before taking questions, Ferguson and NOPD's position on the violence on the Crescent City Connection was made simple.
"There's a night that no one wants to experience. We have identified issues within our department, and we are rectifying those issues."