If the consent decree is lifted will the NOPD go back to the villainous brutalizing ways?  Here’s the problem with lifting a consent decree.  We don’t really know what happens next.  The Justice Department does not track what happens next.  And the current manpower freefall at the department leaves the agency precariously perched on the brink of collapse. With too few officers, will those officers have to be more aggressive to maintain control?  Since criminals know there aren’t many police will they become more violent?  Are people even safe just walking the streets?

 More questions abound.  Has the consent decree increased crime?  Are officers leaving the department because of the consent decree?  If we end the decree will bad officers come back and terrorize citizens again? The current dilemma is a tough one.

Consent decrees are on again.  Under the Trump administration, the justice department ended their implementation.  Trump’s law and order approach encouraged aggressive policing.  The Biden administration’s approach reverts to training departments that disregard the constitutional rights of certain neighborhoods.  Cause let’s be clear.  Consent decrees are designed to protect poorer communities of color.  But are they effective?  Do they work?  Mayor Latoya Cantrell has had enough.  She wants it gone.

Mayor Cantrell held a press conference where she tied the great police resignation to the consent decree.  She claimed officers said they were leaving and joining nearby departments because they had no burdensome consent decree issues.  Specifically, we are hearing about rigid discipline required by the consent decree.  Do officers prefer a slap on the wrist when they violate a person’s constitutional rights?  Are does the consent decree punish too harshly and prevent good tough policing?

There is very little information about what happens after the decree is lifted.  In 1997, the Pittsburgh consent decree ended.  The department’s violation occurrences remained low initially. The department seemed to provide constitutional policing for about 2 years.  But then the follow up stopped.  And the corruption returned.  The Pittsburgh police department was rife with corruption and lawlessness less than four years after the consent decree.

If lawlessness returns to the NOPD, the results are more deaths.  The NOPD was one of the most brutal departments in the country. Yes, prior to the consent decree, the NOPD was regarded as a tough on crime department.  Yet still New Orleans had the highest murder rate in the world. Our city is evidence that you can’t arrest your way out of crime. Because not only did we lead the country in murder, New Orleans was the mass incarceration capital of the world. And during the consent decree tenure arrests have dropped significantly.  But crime and specifically murders seem to happen despite the consent decree. 

Currently we have a spike in murders, and crime is up generally in the city. And the consent decree is in full effect. Furthermore, cities contend that their consent decrees have little effect on crime on the street.  The consent decrees seemingly mainly impact how the police departments interface with the public.  New Orleans has basically spent tens of millions of dollars to teach officers constitutional policing.  Seems like we should have a few lawyers patrolling our streets at these rates. 

Removing the consent decree will certainly save the city a ton of money.  In fact, the NOPD is model of reform.  Our officers do not shoot and kill our citizens and are polite in interactions.  Crime is still high.  And if we come out from under the consent decree and things go south, the monitors already know the best hotels and restaurants in town.

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