The New Orleans Police Department has come under fire following the recent release of an unsparing examination of the city’s sex crimes unit, The New York Times reports.
According to a report prepared by the city’s inspector general, Edouard R. Quatrevaux, five unidentified detectives routinely failed to substantially investigate more than 1,000 sex crimes assigned to them from 2011 to 2013.
One of those detectives reportedly “did not believe that simple rape should be a crime.”
“It was a persistent, systemic problem,” said Howard Schwartz, the inspector general’s lead investigator. “It was a problem of lack of supervision and management that this could go on for three years and no management or supervision at N.O.P.D. recognized it.”
The findings were announced on Wednesday at a joint news conference with the recently appointed superintendent of police, Michael S. Harrison.
“As the chief of police, I am deeply disturbed by the allegations in this report,” he told reporters.
The report also provided a case-by-case analysis of each detective’s discretions, including cases involving juveniles who were likely still residing in places where they were abused.
For instance, a child under the age of three was brought to the hospital emergency room due to an alleged sexual assault and found to have a sexually transmitted disease. In that case, the detective determined that the victim did not share any information that would warrant a criminal investigation and closed the case.
“Quite frankly, I think everyone should be shocked by these numbers,” Cassia Spohn, a professor of criminology at Arizona State University, told the Times about the statistics described in the report.
“Their numbers are really horrific, basically,” said Joanne Archambault, a former police sergeant and the executive director of End Violence Against Women International.
An investigation launched by the Justice Department in 2010 and 2011 also discovered very similar failings and unethical trends within the New Orleans Police Department regarding sex crimes.
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(Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria)