U.S. District Court Judge Susie Morgan denied a request by lawyers for the city of New Orleans that she delay a Jan. 31 deadline, by which the city must file any requests that the court reverse course on its recent approval of the New Orleans Police Department's consent decree, according to a summary of a status conference held yesterday.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who once supported a timely approval of the agreement, has changed his mind due to the uncertain costs associated with the Orleans Parish Prison consent decree, which Judge Lance Africk preliminarily approved this week. A trial on funding for the jail agreement is set for late May. Landrieu says the combined costs of the OPP and NOPD consent decrees could bankrupt the city.
According to the summary, Morgan also ordered the city and the U.S. Department of Justice to form a committee to evaluate applicants for a consent decree monitor, a contract that could be worth as much as $10 million over the course of the consent decree.
(More after the jump)
Filed in the NOPD consent decree lawsuit today is a letter from BreakOUT! director Wesley Ware concerning the department's LGBT policy, a requirement in the sprawling consent decree. As we reported yesterday, BreakOUT! is demanding that Superintendent Ronal Serpas meet with group representatives to discuss any policy before it is finalized.
"We were notified on December 3, 2012 that an LGBTQ policy was in its final stages in the NOPD and that once it was finalized, a meeting would be scheduled with us for review. We still have not heard back from your Department," reads Ware's letter, dated Jan. 19, 2013.
In a response letter, Serpas writes that the NOPD is committed to working with the group.
"...we have not wavered or relinquished in our previous commitment to provide BreakOUT! the opportunity to review and comment on the final LGBT policy prior to implementation," it reads.
Serpas goes on to say that an "outline version" of the policy has been submitted to the City Attorney's Office for review.
"As part of the ongoing development process, this outline was forwarded to the City Attorney’s Office on January 11, 2013, for review and recommendation. This review process by the City Attorney is not a final step before implementation and may have attributed to your confusion. After the City Attorney’s Office has completed their review, the policy will be returned to NOPD along with proposed revisions made by the City’s legal advisors. It will be at this stage in the development process that your organization will be contacted to arrange a meeting to discuss this policy in its refined format."
Ware's letter to NOPD: WesleyWare.pdf
NOPD response: SerpasBreakout.pdf