A new federal monitoring report warns that the New Orleans Police Department is entering a crucial third year of its federal consent decree. It says the force’s commitment to complying with the 492-point court order must not waver, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “This third year is a critical one for NOPD,” lead monitor Jonathan Aronie’s team told U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan. “The department needs to focus its energy like never before and accelerate its progress.” The report gave the department high marks for its professional handling of the man suspected of killing officer Daryle Holloway in June, and for its launch last month of a crisis intervention team aimed at defusing volatile situations involving mentally ill people.
The monitors, appointed in August 2013, also said the police department “still has a long road ahead of it” after police and city leadership squandered much of the first year stubbornly resisting many ordered reforms. “Unfortunately, the time spent during the first year of the consent decree arguing with NOPD and the city over the need for a consent decree … and wading through a culture of ‘Well, that’s how we do it here,’ delayed change and NOPD’s accomplishments,” the report said. The report indicated that while the pace of reform continues in many areas to be slower than desired, momentum has built significantly since former Superintendent Ronal Serpas abruptly retired last year and was replaced by Michael Harrison. “Over the course of the last year or so, the monitoring team has noticed a palpable transformation in the attitude of NOPD management toward change, the consent decree and the work of the monitoring team,” the report said. “Rather than pushing back at every turn, most within NOPD with whom we deal seem to have embraced change, reform and improvement. NOPD leadership now seems genuinely committed to reform.”