The New Orleans Police Department released video from yesterday afternoon's shooting at a Mother's Day second line in the 7th Ward. The video surveillance footage below shows frames of the event that injured 19 people, including Gambit correspondent Deborah Cotton.
Call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111 or 1-877-903-7867 or text to 274637 if you have any information. You also can leave an anonymous tip online. Crimestoppers has increased its reward to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest, and the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau added another $5,000 to that reward.
Today, U.S. District Court Judge Susie Morgan was scheduled to select one of the two final firms that would monitor the New Orleans Police Department and implement reforms as ordered under the federal consent decree. That decision has been postponed another two weeks until May 14.
This morning, the 10-member committee overseeing the selection filed a joint motion to postpone for more time to agree on the finalist. Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration selected Chicago-based consulting firm Hillard Heintze, while the U.S. Department of Justice picked the Los Angeles-based international law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton.
Read more about the two firms in Gambit — and the strengths, weaknesses, potential conflicts and what others have to say about them.
You can download the proposals and other attached documents from this large .zip file.
Police Association of New Orleans (PANO) president Michael Glasser writes in an email that his group will not boycott security details at the upcoming New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival as a protest of a proposed overhaul to the New Orleans Police Department's off-duty detail system.
"The idea has merit, and may yet be one which the rank and file may choose to pursue," Glasser writes. "However, the recent terrorist attack in Boston underscores the vulnerability we have as Americans, and especially in places of major public events attended by large crowds. Nowhere is this more common and more prevalent than in New Orleans."
(Read the full email after the jump)
A New Orleans City Council hearing on two ordinances that will provide a funding mechanism for the new Office of Police Secondary Employment, originally set for Tuesday, April 9 and rescheduled for Wednesday, April 17, has been rescheduled again. A before the City Council's Budget/Audit/Board of Review Committee is now set for Thursday, April 25.
In the meantime, you can read more about the ordinances and opposition to the city's proposed New Orleans Police Department paid detail overhaul in this week's Gambit.
Update (Tues., April 9, 10:30 a.m.): The hearing on proposed NOPD detail ordinances was removed from the City Council committee agenda at the beginning of this morning's meeting. New Orleans City Council President Stacy Head said the Council will discuss the bills next week.
Walter Powers, president of New Orleans largest police officers' association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), has written an open letter to New Orleans Police Department officers, saying that recent talk of boycotting security details during Jazz Fest — in protest of the city's proposed overhaul of the police detail system — is "premature," calling the move a "nuclear option."
"If police officers boycott the Jazz Fest, the organizers simply will hire deputies or security guards and NOPD will supplement coverage with officers on city rolls. A boycott may send a message, but what will we accomplish?"
He goes on to compare a boycott to North Korea's threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States:
"They engaged in no diplomacy and have no boots on the ground. What have they accomplished? The United States is not concerned. Other countries with embassies in North Korea aren’t even evacuating. The world is simply looking and wondering why they would do something so stupid. Unless you are Kim Jung Un the nuclear option is rarely the best option."
“FOP is ready to explore and to execute any and all legal options that are available to our members," but it's too early to talk about boycotting security details, says FOP attorney Ray Burkart in a phone interview.
Burkart says talk of boycotting the festival came up during a recent meeting held by another officers' association, the Police Association of New Orleans (PANO). PANO attorney Eric Hessler acknowledges that a discussion (but not a policy vote) took place, adding that it was an open meeting for that any NOPD officer could attend.
“There was discussion of various responses of what to do regarding these proposed detail reforms," he says. “There was certainly discussion of that — Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest. I think that consideration shows a level of frustration with the detail system that’s being proposed.”
Both PANO and FOP have come out against the new Office of Police Secondary Employment, which moves off-duty detail coordination to an office within City Hall overseen by retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Salomone, who will work under Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin.
(More after the jump)
In a statement that followed Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman's afternoon presser — and a stab at Mayor Mitch Landrieu — after hours of testimony over the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) consent decree, Landrieu issued the following statement to the media:
It gets clearer every day that the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office is not keeping the prison secure and our city safe. This week, expert after expert talked about mismanagement and said this was one of the worst run jails in the country. That is why I am asking for receivership so corrections experts can run the jail in a safe, secure and fiscally responsible way. I cannot in good conscience cut vital services or raise taxes to put even more money into an office where waste, fraud, and abuse run rampant.
Last week, Landrieu warned of possible cuts, taxes and layoffs to pay for the estimated $110 million consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and OPP, on top of the city's already arranged consent decree with the New Orleans Police Department and the DOJ.
Yesterday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for a special New Orleans City Council meeting to discuss the proposed federal consent decree for Orleans Parish Prison — namely how the millions of dollars to pay for it would cripple the city’s budget.
Today, Landrieu said a consent decree with Sheriff Marlin Gusman and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) — on top of the consent agreement to reform NOPD — “cannot be paid for in this fiscal year without raising taxes or substantially gutting city services.”
“During this fiscal year, the sheriff, DOJ, federal judges are all riding up to tell us and the taxpayers of the city to write a blank check and hand it over,” Landrieu said. “We will not voluntarily write an ambiguous, unjustified sum of money to the Orleans Parish sheriff’s office.”
Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin laid out four possible budget scenarios if the city accommodates the $22 million (and growing) cost of the prison consent decree: all city employees would be furloughed 30 days this year; the city would lay off 779 employees; all city departments would take a 45 percent cut; or, in what the city expects to be the most realistic scenario, a combination of 305 layoffs, 15 furlough days for all city employees, and 6.3 percent cuts in other departments and services.
Landrieu’s chief concern is the potential cost to public safety. “If we are forced to make these cuts, they will be real … and throw our entire criminal justice system in disarray,” he said. Kopplin outlined dire cuts to city services, from police and fire to NORD camps and Parks and Parkways.
New Orleans Independent Police Monitor (IPM) Susan Hutson and Inspector General (IG) today presented to the New Orleans City Council's Criminal Justice Committee the results of two highly critical reports on the New Orleans Police Department's stop and frisk programs. The IG report, which examined 10,000 field interview cards generated over two months in 2011, concluded that because of sloppy and incomplete data-gathering on officer field interview cards, the office was unable to determine whether racial profiling was taking place during so-called "Terry stops," where officers briefly stop, detain and possibly search subjects. Under the U.S. Supreme Court's 1968 ruling in Terry v. Ohio, officers must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred to conduct a stop and frisk.
"This is something that is very much in the public eye. It's been in the public eye since I've been here," Hutson said.
NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas told the City Council today that citywide data shows that over the last year, only about 49 percent of field interview cards completed were for black male subjects.
("I don't think that African American men comprise 49 percent of the population of the city of New Orleans," said Louisiana ACLU director Marjorie Esman, responding during the public comment portion of the meeting. Serpas later responded that in 90 percent of violent crimes in New Orleans in 2011, victims and witnesses identified a black male suspect. More than 70 percent of victims, he added, were black. Further note: Public comment on the profiling issue became very contentious. At one point Council Vice President Jackie Clarkson told speaker Randolph Scott to "hush" after he criticized her. The audience booed in response. Clarkson [for some reason] decided to escalate, calling on a police officer to "quiet down" the crowd, which in fact had the opposite effect. Finally, District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry calmly said she wanted to "move on," and the meeting moved on.)
"About 70 percent of field interviews are done because the officer saw the circumstance and took action," Serpas said, and others occurred where citizen complaints were coming in.
Still, said Deputy Police Monitor Simone Levine in a phone interview with Gambit, a whistleblower informed auditors that, during the period in question, some police districts were submitting information for encounters that didn’t even involve suspicion criminal activity, such as interviews of traffic accident victims. There was no way to distinguish between those and cards generated from police stops.
“We can’t evaluate the data. We can’t say who exactly was stopped,” Levine said.
(More after the jump)
After weeks of demands from Danatus King, president of the NAACP's New Orleans chapter, Mayor Mitch Landrieu held a meeting to address community concerns about the New Orleans Police Department — specifically racial profiling — last night at First Emmanuel Baptist Church, a mere 2.6 mile drive from Christian Unity Baptist Church, where King simultaneously held a meeting on the same topic.
Like District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, I was able to attend both meetings, but because I'm unable to bend space, I could only attend the beginning of Landrieu's meeting and the end of the NAACP's meeting. The Times-Picayune's Andrew Vanacore and Richard Rainey can therefore provide a fairer, fuller account of both. Same goes for WWL-TV and WVUE.
I do have some pictures, though.
(More after the jump)
Responding to a rumor recently circulating among some French Quarter residents that the city of New Orleans is poised to sell the New Orleans Police Department's (NOPD) 8th District station (and before the office's recent move to City Hall, the home of the Vieux Carre Commission) at 334 Royal St. sometime in the near future, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's spokesman Ryan Berni writes in an email that city currently has no such plans. However, he adds, that could change in the future.
"The City is open and considering other possible sites that may be better suited and more cost efficient as a police station," Berni writes.
According to Nicole Webre, legislative director for District C City Councilwoman Kristin Palmer, who represents the neighborhood, the city has been pondering offering the building for sale since last year.
“We haven’t heard anything recently," she says.
The historic Bank of Louisiana building, completed in 1827 according to its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, is sitting on a valuable piece of property, a point city officials mentioned when the idea came up about a year ago, Webre says. The nearly 186-year-old building also needs some work.
“The building itself needs to be renovated," Webre says.
Even if the city sells the building, Webre adds, Palmer "is committed to making sure the NOPD does have a presence in the French Quarter, because obviously that’s valuable for many reasons.”
Thanks for pointing out the error.
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