As he toured several New Orleans neighborhoods recently, Police Superintendent Eddie Compass got an earful from citizens aggravated and upset with the men and women paid to protect and to serve, reports the city’s Times-Picayune. They complained about everything from rude and vulgar language to out-and-out brutality. Compass responded with a customer-oriented initiative last month designed to increase courtesy and professionalism among the troops and eliminate catch-all tactics such as random roadblocks that sometimes end up inconveniencing and angering law-abiding citizens.
Yet the number of citizen complaints against police have decreased dramatically in the past 10 years, from 661 in 1995 to 189 last year. But many people say they have taken legitimate complaints to the bureau, only to have them rejected for formal investigation. Others say they have been dissuaded from following through. “People have lost faith,” said Mary Howell, one of the city’s leading civil rights lawyers. “Sometimes I send people back (to the bureau) and they can’t even get their complaint heard on the second or third try. And people who do go through the system complain that they don’t get any satisfaction.”