New Orleans Democrat Mayor LaToya Cantrell called for an end to the city’s federal consent decree, which was put in place nearly a decade ago to ensure civil rights were being upheld. Crime in the city has since soared and law enforcement morale is at a low.
The police department and Department of Justice set up the consent decree in 2013 after a DOJ investigation alleged the force displayed a pattern of civil rights violations.
At a press conference, Cantrell said the force is struggling to keep staff and blamed what she described as a negative narrative about police in combination with the federal oversight agreement.
“The consent decree handcuffs our officers by making their jobs harder, pestering them with punitive punishment and burying them with paperwork that is an overburden,” Cantrell said. “It’s too much.”
Her move to formally dissolve the agreement is an attempt to raise morale, along with other policy changes that will allow facial hair and nail polish. The city also recently purchased 75 new Ford Explorers among other equipment improvements.
“We have a world-class police department, and it is imperative that we ensure every officer feels safe in their jobs and respected on their patrols,” Cantrell said in her statement.
One of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ final acts in his position was to issue a memo curtailing the use of consent decrees, arguing they unjustly hamstrung police departments.
Attorney General Merrick Garland rescinded that memo last year and soon after announced the first new consent decree put in place in over two years.