New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to evaluate his city’s police department, a step that could lead to an agreement imposing some federal oversight of several key areas of the beleaguered agency, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Landrieu is getting in front of what many observers believed was inevitable federal intervention, in particular a consent decree that would include a court-appointed monitor to ensure that specific changes are made within the department.
Often these consent decrees come after the Justice Department’s civil rights division files a lawsuit against a particular law enforcement agency. Sometimes they are negotiated with the cooperation of the local government — the approach that Landrieu favors. Such consent decrees frequently were negotiated by the Justice Department during the Clinton administration, but their use decreased significantly in the Bush administration. Cities with federal court-appointed police monitors have included Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Detroit.