New Orleans Police Deparment Reaches Historic Reform Deal With Justice Department

On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice and the New Orleans Police Department have struck an agreement on reforms to the NOPD. Holder called the 122-page consent decree the most thorough such agreement in United States history.

“Effective policing and constitutional policing go hand in hand,” Holder said at a news conference with federal and local officials. In March 2011, the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division launched an investigation into NOPD which “found dysfunction and corruption in nearly every facet of the department.” Here are some examples of the corruption:

  • In 2005, NOPD officers shot six unarmed people at the Danziger Bridge, killing two of them and wounding four others. The police department responded by fabricating a cover-up story in which the officers were shot at by four of the victims, thus acting in self-defense. It was six years later, in April of this year, that the officers were convicted and sentenced to prison terms each lasting more than 38 years.
  • In 2011, two NOPD officers were convicted of senselessly beating handyman Raymond Robair to death in 2005. After the beating, the officers dropped Robair off at a hospital but did not alert medical staff about the extent of his injuries. Robair later died from internal bleeding.
  • In 1995, two NOPD officers were put on death row for brutally murdering three people, including another officer, while robbing a Vietnamese restaurant. The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the incident.

The new agreement outlines hundreds of new department policies governing arrest protocol, use of force, searches and seizures, interrogations, police reports, and more.

“This landmark consent decree is the most comprehensive agreement the Civil Rights Division has ever entered into with a police department,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, “and it will serve as a blueprint for reform for departments across the country.”


Ben Sherman