Feds Allege Abuses Among New Orleans Police
A U.S. Justice Department investigation has found that the New Orleans Police Department has engaged in "patterns of misconduct in violation of the Constitution and federal law."
"Today is both a day for concern and hope," U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said.
"Many of the New Orleans officers carry out their jobs well, he said, but "unfortunately, our conclusions reveal that many New Orleans police officers have failed to live up to what we rightfully expect from our law enforcement people."
Included in the investigation are allegations of excessive force, unconstitutional stops and searches, and illegally profiled people based on race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The investigation also concluded the New Orleans Police Department engaged in a number of practices that contributed to the illegal conduct, including failed systems for recruiting and promoting officers, poor training and lack of supervision, among others. This effectively places blame upon the leadership within the department.
Police Superintendent Ronal W. Serpas said his department is "completely embracing" the report.
"I believe there is no question that this plan will catapult our department," he said.
The investigation was requested by newly elected mayor, Mitch Landrieu, last year, two days after taking office.
A letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder stated, "I have inherited a police force that has been described by many as one of the worst police departments in the country," Landrieu said in the letter.
"It is clear that nothing short of a complete transformation is necessary and essential to ensure safety for the citizens of New Orleans," it said. "The police force, the community, our citizens are desperate for positive change.
The Justice Department will work with the New Orleans Police to implement new policies and training for its officers. The police department must implement a new way of working that ensures accountability, work closer with the community and restore confidence in the department, the Justice Department report said.Continued on the next page