Criminal Justice
 

Judge extends deadline for city, Justice Department to pick NOPD monitor

Update: The meeting has been postponed until May 14 to give the city and the Justice Department time to agree on the court monitor.

Officials from the city and the U.S. Justice Department meet again Tuesday with the goal of deciding who will be selected to monitor the proposed New Orleans Police Department consent decree.

If they can’t reach agreement, the decision will be left to U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, who is overseeing the case.

We’ll be live-blogging the meeting at the Superdome’s Bienville Club Lounge, starting at noon.

A series of meetings has left the two sides at a stalemate.

Two proposals remain from a field of 12 who sent in proposals late last year:

  • The Justice Department favors the law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton – or SheppardMullin, as the firm is known in its bid documents.
  • The city prefers the Chicago-based Hillard Heintze, whose proposal includes a local representative.

The 10-person selection committee, split between city officials and federal lawyers, has held several public meetings to decide which proposal would win the contract, worth at least $7 million.

The winning company will be charged with ensuring that the terms of the 492-point reform plan for the New Orleans Police Department are met.

The Justice Department asked the judge earlier this month to make the decision herself, but the city successfully argued that it had to be a part of the negotiations because of the price of the consent decree – which will be paid by the city, not the federal government.

Hillard Heintze said it could do the work in five years for $7 million.

SheppardMullin’s bid was for four years at $7.9 million.

In supporting the Hillard Heintze proposal, Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin said it provided more value.

The justice department’s Roy Austin said the issue was the quality of the hours worked, not the number.

He said the city would save money if it was able to exit the consent decree in four years instead of five, and that SheppardMullin had the experience edge over Hillard Heintze. This would be Hillard Heintze’s first foray into a big city monitoring; Sheppard Mullin’s proposed lead monitor, Jonathon Aronie, was deputy monitor during Washington D.C.’s recent police consent decree.

The terms of the consent decree say the federal oversight can end after four years if the police department is found to be in compliance with its many demands.

Everyone agrees that this is the most expansive proposed consent decree in the history of such efforts.

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