Police Corruption and Racism in New Orleans

Police Corruption and Racism in New Orleans

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The facts are there; police in our major cities target blacks more frequently than whites at a rate of five to one. A recent report exposes police corruption and racism at an outrageous level in one of our greatest cities.

New Orleans, Louisiana, has a population of nearly 380,000; over 60 percent of the population is comprised of African-Americans. Five detectives have been accused of failing to adequately investigate over 1,000 sex crime cases and child abuse. The officers were part of the Special Victims Section of the New Orleans Police Department. The Inspector General’s Office discovered that just under 14 percent of cases called into the office received the full attention of these five detectives. One of the detectives stated that he did not believe ‘simple rape’ was a crime. (Simple rape is a committing a forced sexual act with another individual who is unable to defend themselves.)

Cases investigated by the Inspector General generated anger and disgust around the nation. In one instance a two-year-old child was brought into the emergency room after having been sexually assaulted. Tests revealed that the child had been infected with a venereal disease. An investigation never occurred; the detective wrote in his report that the victim was unable to give him additional information.

In another case a juvenile arrived at the emergency room claiming rape. An interview by a specialist resulted in the name of the perpetrator who lived in the victim’s home. He was a convicted sex offender. The officer wrote ‘case closed due to lack of evidence.’

This purposeful negligence by police officers does not surprise those who work for the activist group ‘Safe Streets, Strong Communities.’ The group was formed after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Deaths and severe injuries to black men and women by the NOPD prompted its creation with the goal of forcing an investigation into the city’s criminal justice system. Finally in 2012 the NOPD and the Justice Department signed an agreement for increased oversight. A private attorney has been hired by ‘Safe Streets, Strong Communities’ to act as a watchdog over the police department.

The joint agreement is designed to change the relationship between law enforcement and ethnic communities, as well as the LGBT community.

The five detectives under investigation were selective about the cases they chose to bring to prosecution. The Inspector General’s Office discovered that only 179 of 1,290 cases called into the police station between January 2011 and February 2013 were fully investigated by the five officers. Incomplete reports filed by the five detectives were the norm. Information which would have assisted the police department in further investigation was omitted from the form such as the victim’s name, physical locations, and the names of accused perpetrators. Some reports were simply falsified. They claimed to have performed additional investigation when none had occurred.

The severity of injuries was not a consideration for the detectives. In one instance an infant arrived at the emergency room with two skull fractures. The hospital’s report given to one of the detectives stated that the injury was the result of a ‘non-accident.’ He failed to investigate the child’s serious injury.

The detectives have not been suspended; they continue to work as patrol officers with the New Orleans Police Department.

By James Turnage

Sources:

Al Jazeera America

ABC New Orleans

SF Gate

U.S. Census Bureau

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