Taking aim at a long history of civil rights abuses, corruption, and slipshod oversight in the New Orleans Police Department, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Mayor Mitch Landrieu unfurled sweeping reforms in the nation’s most expansive police consent decree to date, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The long-awaited agreement, to be overseen by an appointed monitor and U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, amounts to a 492-point, court-enforced action plan for overhauling police policies and practices — from when officers can pull their weapons to the kind of data they track.
It came after several months of detailed and sometimes testy negotiations over hot-button topics such as off-duty police details and the financing of the reforms, all of which will fall to the city. Landrieu estimated that putting the consent decree in motion will set the city back $11 million a year to start. Holder said the government would offer support by way of available federal grants and advice, but the city is on the hook for the full tab. Landrieu exuded pride in what amounts to an unprecedented local-federal pact, even though the far-reaching document is a response to a yawning breadth of problems that he said have plagued the police department for years. The document calls for landmark change in the department’s policies, philosophies and practices and seeks to make the police force more transparent, its officers and leaders more accountable.