"The NOPD [New Orleans Police Department] has long been a troubled agency. Basic elements of effective policing - clear policies, training, accountability, and confidence of the citizenry - have been absent for years. Far too often, officers show a lack of respect for the civil rights and dignity of the people of New Orleans. While the majority of the force is hardworking and committed to public safety, too many officers of every rank either do not understand or choose to ignore the boundaries of constitutional policing. Some argue that, given the difficulty of police work, officers must at times police harshly and bend the rules when a community is confronted with seemingly intransigent high levels of crime. [...] NOPD's failure to ensure that its officers routinely respect the Constitution and the rule of law undermines trust within the very communities whose cooperation the Department most needs to enforce the law and prevent crime. As systematic violations of civil rights erode public confidence, policing becomes more difficult, less safe, and less effective, and crime increases. [...] The problems in NOPD developed over a long period of time and will take time to address and correct. The Department must develop and implement new policies and protocols, train its officers in effective and constitutional policing, and institutionalize systems to ensure accountability, foster police-community partnerships, improve the quality of policing to all parts of the City, and eliminate unlawful bias from all levels of NOPD policing decisions. Recommendations on achieving these changes are attached to this Report. We look forward to working with NOPD and the City of New Orleans to address the violations of constitutional and federal law that we identified, by developing and implementing a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable reform that will: (1) reduce crime; (2) ensure respect for the Constitution and the rule of law; and (3) restore public confidence in NOPD."
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