U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and local officials today are announcing a wide slate of reforms in the New Orleans Police Department, ending months of negotiation over the most far-reaching federal consent decree of its kind in the U.S., a source tells the New Orleans Times-Picayune. A 125-page agreement, which a federal judge must endorse, will serve as a road map for change in the city’s long-embattled police department.
The federal oversight mandated by the agreement will stick for at least four years, to be overseen by a monitor and a federal court judge. The deal will force the police department to address numerous deficiencies, most of which the U.S. Department of Justice highlighted last year in a withering critique of virtually every aspect of the force. The decree dictates changes big and small, from policy tweaks to administrative reconfigurations and more. Among the changes: how cops must conduct traffic stops, searches and arrests; how they examine officer use of force; and how they interrogate citizens. Unlike now, officers will be required to audiotape and videotape every suspect interview. The federal order mandates changes to the troubled system in which officers work off-duty, paid security details for private interests. The city and the department previously announced changes in the details system, creating an oversight agency within City Hall.