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Task force will probe NOPD’s Special Victims Section

24th November 2014   ·   0 Comments

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and how do payday loans check your credit NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison announced Tuesday the formation of a task force charged with addressing the allegations made by the city’s inspector general that accused five detectives in the embattled department’s Special Victims Section of failing to follow up on 86 percent of the calls reporting sexual assault that were made between 2011 and 2013, FOX 8 New s reported. The task force is expected to recommend new policies aimed at reforming the much-maligned unit.

The announcement in front of City Hall was made Tuesday, a week after New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux held a press conference to discuss the scathing report which accuses NOPD detectives of routinely failing to investigate calls reporting sexual assaults. At least 15 of the cases involved children, according to the report.

Five detectives in the NOPD’s Special Victims Section — Damita Williams, Merrell Merricks, Akron Davis, Derrick Williams and Vernon Haynes — were reassigned after that disastrous report highlighted little or no follow up on hundreds of sex crime cases, some of which involved children.

The report, issued two weeks ago, found that between 2011 and 2013 there were 1,290 calls to the NOPD, reporting possible sex crimes.

More than 800 of those calls were written up as miscellaneous, meaning no report was ever written. Some of those cases involved children who suffered injuries, and were placed back into the same situation.

Landrieu, Harrison and the new commander of the newly created special victims unit vowed to make substantial change.

“Since taking office in 2010, this has been a top priority for me personally and for my administration,” Landrieu said. “That’s why we’ve worked so hard to clear the backlog of rape kits, implement better policies and training requirements and launch a comprehensive domestic violence initiative. Notwithstanding all of the progress, we now know that we did not pull this problem out by the root. The accusations against these five detectives are a disgrace, and it is unacceptable that special victims were failed by the system. The mission of this special taskforce is to bring justice to these victims.

“Intense investigations are going to take place on all of these five individuals’ supervisors that allow it to happen,” Landrieu added. “We’re going rework every case to make sure that justice is done for every victim, and we’re going to completely rework this unit going forward to make sure that this never happens again.”

NOPD Second District personal loans lex ky Command­er Paul Noel will lead a team of four officers to re-investigate each case that was touched by five detectives in the Special Victims Section from 2011-2013. To ensure justice, the team will approach each case like a cold case detective reviewing current evidence on file and gathering any new evidence. In addition, the task force will recommend new personnel, policies and procedures within the Sex Crimes Unit, so that the NOPD is equipped to protect and serve the victims of these crimes.

Noel, who led the Sex Crimes Division from July 2010 to March 2011, is an 18-year veteran of the NOPD. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Loyola University New Orleans in Criminal Justice in 2005 and a Master’s Degree from Loyola University New Orleans in Criminal Justice in 2009. He also graduated from the FBI National Academy and the FBI’s Law Enforce­ment Executive Develop­ment Program.

“At the end of the day, we will work to bring lasting changes not only to the Special Victims Section, but to every area of the New Orleans Police Department,” Noel said Tuesday.

“In order to get the job done, I’ve assembled a team with a combined 55 years of law enforcement experience,” Noel said. “Together our team will approach each case from a perspective of a cold case detective.”

Noel said he is reserving judgment on what went wrong until the task force completes its investigation.

The other members of the special NOPD taskforce include Detective Sergeant Francis Jarrott, who is currently assigned to 2nd District; Detective Jeffrey Keating, who is currently assigned to 2nd District; and Detective Melanie Dillon, who is currently assigned to Homicide.

Community United for Change, a grassroots organization that organized the public forums that brought together DOJ officials and members of the community to share their stories about unconstitutional policing, recently asked U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan to remove Washing­ton, DC-based Sheppard, Mullin, Richter ^ Hampton from its role as federal monitor of the NOPD consent decree, in part because the federal monitor has failed to do its job.

CUC wrote the judge again last week and asked the judge to intervene because it said the NOPD refuses to comply with the mandates listed in the 492-point consent decree.

“The NOPD has been able to circumvent the Consent Decree through the escape mechanism of pronouncing the supporting policing agencies with clean hands because the Consent Decree has how to get instant loans no jurisdiction over these supporting agencies,” CUC told Judge Morgan in the letter dated Nov. 16. “This has created a judicial nightmare with jurisdictional shell game reasoning. When Consent Decree infractions occur by supporting policing agencies, the NOPD refuse any responsibility for investigating and adjudicating infractions of the Consent Decree by the assisting agencies and referring all complaints of violations to the visiting agencies complaint department. This has created a need for Jurisdictional Economy under the Color of Law.

“If the supporting agencies are not operating within the guidelines of the federally mandated Consent Decree, NOPD can continue its police terror through surrogate agencies. This will effectively circumvent the intent and spirit of the Consent Decree,” CUC continued.

CUC told the judge of a recent case during which a federal marshal allegedly kicked a 16-year-old girl in the mouth on Nov. 7 while in the process of serving an NOPD arrest warrant on the teen’s mother.

“The juvenile was transported to Children’s Hospital and arrested for kicking a police officer and other related charges,” CUC told Judge Morgan.

“CUC called NOPD’s PIB and an Investigative Detective was dispatched to the home to begin an investigation. After the detective interviewed complaining parties and witnesses, the detective advised all that the Feds had jurisdiction and complaining parties would have to contact the appropriate departments.

“This is a case where the Federal Marshals were operating under the Color of Law for the NOPD. The Federal Marshals were operating as NOPD, for the NOPD and with NOPD authority. The NOPD Consent Decree is meaningless if other agencies can operate under the Color of Law of the NOPD and not be held accountable by NOPD for illegal actions and behaviors exhibited while executing NOPD business. Essentially this releases the assisting agencies from any federal oversight of the Consent Decree.”

“The victims of these alleged crimes don’t have time to wait,” NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison said. “That’s why we worked quickly to put this special NOPD task force together. I am confident Commander Noel and his team will provide a thorough investigation on each of these cases and lay the groundwork to bring about lasting change to the Special Victims Section.”

“We are supporting this effort and will commit all of our resources, time and energy to make sure that we are getting this right for victims,” Mary Claire Landry, Executive Director, New Orleans Family Justice Center, said.

“Paul short term loans for self employed Noel is someone who earned our trust when he first took over the Sex Crimes Unit. He clearly understands these issues and is smart and capable enough to do the work necessary to do these reforms,” Tania Tetlow, a Tulane Law School professor and director of its Domestic Law Clinic said. “We want to be part of helping to create systems and institutional structures and systems that outlast the good intentions of the people in this room and will become permanent.”

The five officers could face termination and/or criminal prosecution.

Supt. Harrison said last week that investigators “will follow the investigation wherever it leads us, and to whomever it leads us, in order to get to the bottom of what went wrong and how.

“We will ask questions of anybody that had anything to do with working these cases or supervising these cases,” Harrison added.

“The 2011 findings report of the Department of Justice identified the failure to properly investigate sex crimes as a serious problem in the New Orleans Police Department.” the DOJ’s Special Litigation Unit in Washington, D.C. told The Louisiana Weekly in an email dated Nov. 14. “Necessary reforms to address these concerns were included in the consent decree negotiated with the City of New Orleans, and the parties are, together, working diligently to implement them. To be effective, changes in NOPD’s response to sex crimes, like all reforms required by the Decree, must be built on a foundation of clear policies and effective training, and supported by strong systems of accountability, including close supervision and quality investigations of officer misconduct. The parties and Decree monitor are working hard to build these systems and implement these reforms so that victims of sexual violence are protected and their rights vindicated.”

“This scandal over sexual assault cases only demonstrates the need to have federal eyes on this police department,” Ramessu Merriamen Aha, a New Orleans businessman and former congressional candidate, told The Louisiana Weekly.

“It would be a little naive to expect the NOPD to get to the bottom of this Special Victims Section scandal, given its history of failing to comply with federal standards for constitutional policing and its insistence that it did not even need a federal consent decree to reform itself.”

Additional reporting by Louisiana Weekly editor Edmund W. Lewis.

This article originally published in the November 24, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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