Allegations of corruption and coverups in the New Orleans Police Department have prompted the U.S. Justice Department to consider a little-used tactic that could force changes – and restore public confidence, reports USA Today. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who as a federal prosecutor 15 years ago helped convict a New Orleans police officer of murder, met with city leaders here and says the city’s cops have become so troubled that his department may file a “pattern or practice” discrimination lawsuit against the city. That would allow the Justice Department to seek a court order to impose changes.
Only 21 of the nation’s 17,000 state and local law enforcement agencies have been hit with pattern or practice lawsuits since the option was created in 1994. Perez’s New Orleans visit came as federal authorities investigate eight local cases of alleged police misconduct, many in the aftermath of the August 2005 flooding.