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NOPD and LSP praised for court performances

24th April 2017   ·   0 Comments

Despite the negative press the New Orleans Police Department and the Louisiana State Police have received in recent months, both agencies were praised for the way officers from both law enforcement agencies conducted themselves while testifying in Orleans Parish Criminal Court during nonprofit organization Court Watch Nola’s 2016 report.

Among other things, the report gives the NOPD officers and LSP troopers high marks for what was perceived as their preparedness, knowledge and truthfulness during court testimony.

The report, released earlier this month, covers a wide spectrum of topics, with volunteer observers watching closely how attorneys conducted themselves in court, to judges’ handling of their courtroom duties and law enforcement officers’ professionalism and soundness as witnesses. reported that Court Watch Nola was particularly impressed with NOPD and LSP officers’ handling of their duties as witnesses in the courtroom. The nonprofit organization was asked by NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison for feedback on how his officers handled themselves in court to determine whether the department needed to devote more time and energy to making improvements in this area of officer performance.

Court Watch Nola said in its report that the performances of NOPD officers and LSP troopers were overwhelmingly positive.

In 93 percent of the 981 observances of NOPD and LSP officers on the witness stand last year, the observers noted that they were knowledgeable of the facts in the case. that they were prepared for their testimony 96 percent of the time and “honest in their testimony” 97 percent of the time.

In other NOPD-related news, the NOPD’s federal consent decree monitor said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ calls for a review of consent decrees won’t lead to any changes as the NOPD moves toward the completion of its fourth year since implementation of the federally mandated consent decree began in August 2013.

After AG Jeff Sessions’ April 3 memo calling for a review of all consent decrees aimed at reforming local law enforcement agencies. Washington, DC-based Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton said that the NOPD consent decree remains in place and will continue.

“The consent decree is in place. There are no changes to it,” lead monitor Jonathan Aronie said. “The court will continue to monitor the implementation of the decree that benefits the citizens of New Orleans and is supported by the city and the police department.” reported that NOPD spokesman Beau Tidwell issued a statement saying the department is “committed to the process of reform, because we believe embracing 21st-century policing is the right thing to do for our department and for our residents.”

Tidwell told that Sessions’ comments “don’t impact our commitment to constitutional policing and ongoing reform.”

Both the NOPD and the Orleans Justice Center (Orleans Parish Prison) are currently under federally mandated consent decrees aimed at bringing the police department and jail up to federal standards for constitutional policing and jailing respectively.

The 492-point NOPD consent decree came about in the wake of several high-profile, post-Katrina killings involving NOPD officers that led to a scathing U.S. Dept. of Justice report that said the NOPD was rife with corruption and abuse. The Orleans Parish Prison consent decree resulted from a civil lawsuit filed by private plaintiffs.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Katie Schwartzmann, an attorney from the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center representing those private plaintiffs, told The Justice Department and City of New Orleans joined the lawsuit only after the litigation filed by Schwartzmann’s clients — inmates at the jail — filed suit.

Schwartzmann told that she believed there has been enough “momentum” regarding the jail’s consent decree to preclude the possibly of any “backslide.”

“The case is far enough along and there’s enough investment by the court and enough public understanding of the severity of the problems at the jail,” Schwartzmann said. “I think that there’s consensus that the jail consent decree is very necessary.”

This article originally published in the April 24, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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