NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — At the Mayor’s weekly press and public safety briefing Wednesday (April 5th) Mayor Latoya Cantrell explained her decision to scale back on the NOPD’s participation in consent decree hearings.

Her response addressed Federal Judge Susie Morgan who ordered Monday (April 2nd), that the Police Superintendent and other city department heads attend next consent degree public hearing on Wednesday April 12th.

It was a move made to counter Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s order to keep city staff away.

The meeting usually covers several issues concerning residents and today was no different, but when asked about the NOPD consent decree the Mayor did not mince words.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said, “It’s a burden on our department, and it is a burden on the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department that we depend on.”

The Mayor contends that the focus of the decree should be bias-free policing and stop, search, and arrest, and requiring other city department heads to appear at hearings is outside the scope.

“That’s where the focus needs to be. Focusing on areas outside of the scope of the consent decree isn’t getting us to the end goal,” stated Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

Dr. Asraf Esmail, Criminal Justice Program Coordinator and Director of the Center for Racial Justice at Dillard University commented that after 10 years the consent degree is having an adverse effect on keeping officers.

Dr. Asraf Esmail went on to say, “When you survey officers as we did last year, many of them indicated that the consent decree was one of the reasons they were leaving the force or leaving the NOPD.”

Mayor LaToya Cantrell added that ordering department heads to appear at hearings is counter to ending the decree stating, “It clearly shows that it’s not about the consent decree; it’s about power. It’s about control.”

The Mayor was then asked whether officials would appear.

“Well, the judge is the judge! Let’s be clear. I understand what staying in my lane looks like, I do. So the judge has demonstrated her power and her control. That is outside of the scope of the consent decree, which only echoes what I have been saying,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell

Mayor LaToya Cantell also went on to state that would not be attending those meetings.

Esmail also said that we should know by now where the Department is falling short stating, “10 years seems like a long enough time to assess where we are. If we’re not, what are the provisions as to why we are not? I think that needs to be clear on, and I’m sure most of the community is not clear on.”

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