NOPD Consent Decree Quaqmire?!!

US Department of Justice Seal

US Department of Justice Seal

One thing the Feds do right is take their time when instituting a consent decree on a large city police department. It’s a very delicate thing, the Feds taking over an urban police force.

This isn’t the first dance for the Feds. They have done some good in NYC, L.A., Chicago, etc. over the last few decades. They only step in when the corruption seems to get away from the current police administration over time. This makes New Orleans the next in line. You can say with some confidence the consent degree will be forthcoming in the next year or so.

The Feds have taken two years so far. While that seems like an eternity, it’s right on course if you look at other Federal orders.

Once Jim Letten set his sights on former mayor Ray Nagin things moved a bit faster. There is nothing like the impending trial by a 2 term former mayor with very dirty hands to speed things up a bit.

The man on the spot is retired NOPD officer Daniel Cazenave, who has been the liaison between NOPD and the US Department of Justice.

Below is from nola.com’s Laura Maggi-

As negotiations drag on for a federal consent decree that will govern the New Orleans Police Department, the city has renewed a $65,000 annual contract with a retired police officer to serve as the liaison between NOPD commanders and the U.S. Department of Justice. Daniel Cazenave, a veteran NOPD officer, is a technical adviser to the city attorney’s office and the city’s outside lawyers as they hash out the details of the decree with Justice Department attorneys.

nopd (1).jpg

Cazenave is one of several consultants involved in hammering out the decree, which Mayor Mitch Landrieu recently said could take until mid-year to be finalized.

Cazenave’s contract was renewed earlier this month.

City Attorney Richard Cortizas and some of his subordinates are leading negotiations on the decree for the Landrieu administration. But the city has also tapped defense attorney Ralph Capitelli to help, said city spokesman Ryan Berni.

In August 2011, Capitelli inked a one-year contract with the city that caps his firm’s reimbursement at $250,000. Berni said that amount is expected to cover all outside counsel costs related to the decree.

NOPD Cloth Patch

NOPD Cloth Patch

That sum includes consulting work by Gerald Chaleff, a Los Angeles lawyer who is also part of the city’s negotiation team, Berni said. Chaleff was a prominent defense attorney in Los Angeles and former member of that city’s police commission. He now serves as “special assistant for constitutional policing” for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Cazenave’s role appears to extend beyond the negotiating table. His professional services agreement calls for him to serve as the liaison between NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas and the Justice Department, and also to provide managerial support for Serpas’ office related to the decree.

The consent decree, based on a devastating critique of the NOPD released almost a year ago, is expected to be wide-ranging in scope, requiring scores of policy changes that will affect NOPD’s internal investigations and how police respond to crimes.

Just as the process of negotiating it has a price tag, the decree itself will be expensive to implement, requiring the city to invest in training and technology. Experts have estimated that a federal monitor to watch over how the NOPD implements the decree requirements could cost $1 million annually.

New Orleans’ independent police monitor office has asked both the federal government and city negotiators to include in the final document an expansion of that office’s powers and responsibilities.

Simone Levine, the deputy police monitor, said the office is understaffed. In order to issue the reports required by its mandates, the office needs data analysts and auditors, she said. The office employs Levine and Police Monitor Susan Hutson plus a community-relations director and an administrative assistant.

Levine said the office is hoping that the office’s scope is broadened to include independent inquiries into some complaints about NOPD officers. To accomplish this, the office would need to hire investigators, she said.

In the past, representatives of the city’s police associations have balked at requests to give the police monitor’s office such authority. The office is currently limited to reviewing internal investigations conducted by the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau.

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~ by neworleansmusicman on February 28, 2012.

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