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Consent decree monitor search 

Candidate list narrowed to five

  The New Orleans Police Department consent decree monitor evaluation committee narrowed a list of monitor candidates to five firms (from the 12 that applied) at the committee's first public meeting March 7. The committee, made up of five representatives from New Orleans government — which is fighting in court to void the consent decree — and five from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will meet throughout March and April to select a monitor before the court-mandated April 30 deadline.

  The city chose three finalists for the contract, which is likely to be worth between $8 million and $10 million over four to five years — and the DOJ picked two. The city's picks are the Bromwich Group, recently founded by former federal offshore drilling regulator Michael Bromwich; the OIR Group, headed by Michael Gennaco, the chief attorney for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's civilian oversight board; and the Washington law firm of Shepard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. The DOJ chose California-based Elite Performance Assessment Solutions and Chicago-based Hillard Heintze, which counts former Chicago Police Department Chief Terry Hillard among its principals.

  Though the committee is holding open meetings (a first for a police department consent decree, said Deputy Attorney General Roy Austin, a committee member for the DOJ), several attendees called the open meeting not truly transparent.

  Sandra Wheeler Hester said attendees, who were not provided bid details or the applicant firms' names in writing, had too little information to follow the discussion or make informed public comments. "Here's a so-called agenda," Hester said, holding up the generic, seven-line meeting agenda that didn't list the applicants' names. "What did you invite us for — so we could sit here and look at you?"

  Prisoners' rights advocate Norris Henderson said the committee provided too little notice, and he criticized the schedule of early afternoon and morning meeting times, adding that if not for "all these consultants and a handful of reporters," the room would have been nearly empty.

  "This is not about transparency," Henderson said. "Transparency is having meetings at 6 p.m. Where are the victims of police violence?"

  The committee's next meeting is at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2.

— Charles Maldonado

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