Criminal Justice
 

Live blog Thursday: Federal court hearing focuses on supervisors’ oversight at NOPD

U.S. District Court Judge Susie Morgan will hold a hearing Thursday on the New Orleans Police Department’s progress in meeting court-ordered reforms.

The hearing starts at 1:30 p.m.; The Lens will live blog it here.

This is the second of four hearings this year, each focusing on a different aspect of the federal consent decree that mandates certain changes in how the department functions. A hearing in February focused on police training.

This week, a team monitoring the implementation of the consent decree is presenting its findings on supervision.

In its 2011 investigation of the department, the U.S. Department of Justice found that supervisors did not routinely review reports of arrests and officers’ use of force — even signing off on reports that had “obvious flaws.”

The Justice Department concluded that police sergeants were responsible for far too many officers, sometimes as many as 20 officers to a sergeant.

Despite the shortage of supervisors, the Justice Department found that sergeants often remained at their district offices rather than conducting field supervision as they should have.

In a report released in April, the monitoring team noted some progress, including revising “trip sheet” forms to require officers to document if their equipment worked properly and when they used them, including body-worn and dashboard cameras.

The department, however, still fell far short of its obligations under the consent decree, the monitoring team said, though it wasn’t always clear whether the problem was deliberate noncompliance or simply bad recordkeeping.

In almost half of the incidents reviewed, the monitors found no documentation showing that supervisors responded to and fully participated in investigations into officers’ use of force.

Most districts couldn’t show that they consistently met their supervisor-to-officer ratio goals because they couldn’t produce records showing when supervisors took days off. And district supervisors didn’t track disciplinary actions taken against officers. Some referred the monitoring team to the Public Integrity Bureau for those records.

“While some supervisors referred the Monitoring Team to PIB [the Public Integrity Bureau] to obtain such information, the existence of disciplinary materials at PIB does not excuse district supervisors from having to be aware of what is going on in their districts,” the monitoring team wrote.

Live blog

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