NOPD Disciplinary System Update

A quick update:

It appears the number of DI-1 investigations are up significantly. As most NOPD personnel are likely aware, most investigations are being conducted by division supervisors. The consent decree requires that investigations involving allegations of criminal misconduct, unreasonable use of force, discriminatory policing, false arrest or planting evidence, untruthfulness/false statements, unlawful search, sexual misconduct, domestic violence, and theft must be conducted by PIB personnel as opposed to division supervisors.

Paragraph 399 of the consent decree indicates that internal investigations must be allegation based as opposed to being based on the anticipated outcome. The NOPD has interpreted this as meaning they must investigate every complaint as described by the complainant, no matter how ridiculous the complaint may be on its face.

The body worn cameras have paid some dividends in a few cases. There have been several allegations made against officers that have been clearly and unequivocally discounted based on body worn camera evidence. Paragraph 400 of the consent decree limits the circumstances that an investigation can be classified as NFIM (no formal investigation merited) to complaints contesting traffic citations, complaints about delay in police services, complaints about off duty civil matters, or if the person complained about does not work for NOPD. The NOPD has interpreted that to mean that absent those limited circumstances, a full investigation, including statements, etc., must be conducted even if there is video evidence exonerating the officer. It was my suggestion, on behalf of the FOP, that paragraph 400 of the consent decree would allow the NOPD to assess video evidence and assign a formal disposition at the intake stage if warranted. This would serve to reduce the workload of division supervisors. This would also reduce the amount of time that officers, who would normally be serving the public, would be off the street tending to unsubstantiated complaints.

In addition to increasing the efficiency of the disciplinary system, this plan should also include referring cases proven to be false through video evidence for investigation as to whether the complainant violated La. R.S. 14:133.5 relative to Filing a False Complaint Against a Law a Enforcement Officer and referred for prosecution. The officer should also be made aware of any complaint proven to be false to allow the officer to pursue civil remedies if he or she chooses.

The Fraternal Order of Police provides legal representation to its members as a benefit of membership. With complaints up and more and more people with different motivations and interests participating in the internal investigation process, it is more important than ever to take advantage of these legal services. It is best to call as soon as you learn of the existence of a complaint. Sometimes an officer is notified of a pending complaint and sometimes an officer does not find out until they receive a notice of an extension hearing at Civil Service. In any event, an officer can contact me directly or Jim Gallagher, our Legal Committee Chairman, regarding the legal services provided by the FOP. The FOP is committed to protecting the rights of its members under all circumstances, minor or serious.

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