Holder Announces Broad New Orleans Police Reforms

The New Orleans Police Department and the Justice Department agreed to sweeping police reforms.

After years of controversy over mismanagement, corruption and insensitivity toward minority citizens, the New Orleans Police Department has agreed to an overhaul that was overseen by the United States Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice.

Holder was in New Orleans with Mayor Mitch Landrieu Wednesday to formally announce the agreement, which incorporates some of the broadest reforms that any police department has agreed to undertake.

The attorney general said that the negotiations paved the way for sweeping reforms and that it resolves allegations that New Orleans police officers have engaged in a pattern of discriminatory and unconstitutional activity.

"There can be no question that today's action represents a critical step forward," Holder said. "It reaffirms the Justice Department's commitment to fair and vigorous law enforcement at every level."

The New Orleans mayor estimated that the city will pay approximately $11 million each year for the next four or five years to implement the reforms. He expressed confidence that the agreement will produce "the new NOPD."

The agreement comes a year after the Justice Department issued a report that harshly criticized the New Orleans police officers for frequently using deadly force without justification. The report said that police officers repeatedly made unconstitutional arrests and engaged in racial profiling.

The agreement includes some striking provisions that will be new to the department. 

Under the agreement, all police officers will be required to undergo at least 24 hours of training on stops, searches and arrests. They will also be required to have 40 hours of use-of-force training and four hours of training on bias-free policing within a year of the agreement taking effect.

In addition, all interrogations involving suspected homicides or sexual assaults will have to be recorded in their entirety on video. The police department also will be required to install video cameras and location devices in all patrol cars and other vehicles within two years.

The department will be required to completely restructure the system for paying officers for off-duty security details, develop a new report format for collecting data on all stops and searches and create a recruitment program to increase diversity among its officers.

The agreement calls on New Orleans and the Justice Department to select a court-supervised monitor to regularly assess and report on the police department's implementation of the requirements.

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(Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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