Monday, August 10, 2009

A city incapable of policing its own police

Given this and this (and so many more paper cut and mortal wound examples), is it yet the conventional wisdom that our NOPD has regressed to the low levels of public confidence and effectiveness that nearly brought about a consent decree receivership with the Department of Justice in the mid-1990's?

Is discourse going to be such that a mayoral campaign promise of a "national search" for a new police chief will be code for a recognition of the panacea of problems with the incumbent NOPD leadership? Or are candidates going to be challenged to make a more precise diagnosis?

7 comments:

Damian said...

On your first link (the investigation of the Katrina shootings), I'm in total agreement: there needs to be a full investigation, and I support the Feds' efforts to seize documents to that end. It's logical to distrust the police to manage their own investigation on this topic, and in fact, the Danziger Bridge investigation was a farce.

On the second link--the police monitor--I don't know much about it, but I'd read that article and frankly didn't think it was very good.

DeBerry's argument seems to be "they invited some other people in, but then recommended the guy from the New Orleans Inspector General's office, which seems rude." He didn't provide any details on what the impropriety was.

The quotes from the board members (e.g. "Even one of the members who did vote for Moody -- Ted Quant of Loyola University -- left with a bad taste in his mouth. "No, this process was not good," he said.") don't make any concrete accusations or assertions about what the problem was. Maybe it was assumed I would know about the problem, but the article really left me mystified.

DeBerry just noted that there could be an appearance of impropriety and left it at that. Can anyone offer more concrete details?

Not Sparky said...

Damian:

Here is some initial discussion of the police monitor position, the receipt of applications for the position (with a salary of $130k+) and the panel charged with making recommendations of candidates (note the make up of the panel – including Warren Riley (!) and Nagin’s chief administrator – is part of the law creating the position, but the ordinance gives final authority to select a candidate to the IG):

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/05/40_apply_for_new_orleans_polic.html

Two months later, interim IG Leonard Odom (why is there no permanent replacement for Cerasoli over six months later?) calls a public meeting to announce his hiring decision. He then revealed that he hadn’t even interviewed any of the candidates at that point. In the face of public protest, Odom agrees to postpone his decision to allow for the panel to interview candidates.

Neely Moody, Odom’s first assistant, is one of the final four candidates identified. Since no one else was interviewed, it seems pretty clear who Odom intended to hire all along.

http://www.wwltv.com/crime/stories/wwl071709mlIG.4e10c7fb.html

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/07/four_candidates_for_no_police.html

Last week, a second public meeting was held to provide an opportunity for audience members to ask the four candidates questions. Odom cut off the discussion after only an hour, and all but one of the selection panel members then recommended Moody for the job. Audience members complained that it looked like a set up since Moody was the choice since the beginning.

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2009/08/police_monitor_nomination_head.html

The IG is supposed to advise the city on how processes like these should be conducted, and his own process looks questionable and loaded with conflicts of interest. Just doesn't look right.

What exactly is up with the IG? The silence from that office since Cerasoli left is deafening.

mominem said...

No mayor can be expected to be an expert in police policy or the detailed administrations of the department. Anything more than very broad policy direction and finding a good Police Chief seems like overreaching.

I wonder if we shouldn't take control away from the mayor and either give it to the Mayor and the Council jointly or put the NOPD under an elected Sheriff, whose sole function would be policing.

We already elect the DA and the Judges, why not the Police Chief (Sheriff)

E said...

"We already elect the DA and the Judges, why not the Police Chief (Sheriff)"

Because we need a more professional NOPD and not a more popular one, though perhaps those two things are the same over the short term.

Damian said...

Not Sparky,

Thanks for the background. Very helpful in complimenting the article E referenced.

Still Not Sparky said...

Thanks, Damian.

To complete the circle, interim IG Odom announced the hiring of his first assistant yesterday by e-mail, defended the “nationwide search” resulting in the in-office promotion by citing to a few hundred hits on careerbuilder.com, and then ducked media inquiries for follow up.

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/08/interim_ig_names_neely_moody_c.html

After the outreach made by Cerasoli to the community in general (including weekly radio interviews, nearly unlimited press access, and direct outreach to the local blogosphere), it’s incredible that no one has called out the interim IG for failing to keep the public informed about what, if anything at all, his office is doing.

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