NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - “The City of New Orleans recognizes transparency facilitates increased trust between the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and the New Orleans community.” Those are the opening words to a memo explaining the NOPD’s new plan for releasing what it calls “Critical Incident Recordings.”
The NOPD defines a critical incident as: “an event in which an NOPD officer uses force resulting in hospitalization or death; an NOPD officer intentionally shoots his or her gun at a person; an NOPD officer strikes someone in the head with an impact weapon, whether intentional or not; an NOPD police vehicle pursuit results in death or injury of a person requiring hospitalization; or an arrested or detained subject dies while in custody.”
“Every police officer in the field who responds to a citizen's call for service wears one of these body cameras. And these videos eliminate the ‘he said, she said’ arguments that happen... It's a very unbiased way to look at the incidents,” says NOPD Superintendent, Michael Harrison.
In an effort to increase transparency and accountability, the NOPD released two videos to the media on Wednesday. The videos are from 2015 cases that are closed, but they were released to show examples of the types of videos that will eventually be made public under the new plan.
In one video, an officer shoots and kills an armed robbery suspect.
In another video, offers get into a gunfight with a man. He was asked to step out of a vehicle where drug activity was suspected. He runs away, firing a gun at the officers. He is shot and later died at the hospital.
Moving forward, critical incidents with ongoing investigations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the final decision as to which will be made public will come from Superintendent Michael Harrison.
“We've created a process that serves a purpose of being open and transparent with the community in these critical incidents, as long as they don't compromise the integrity of ongoing investigations. No more than within 9 days, we'll have an opportunity to look at these critical incidents and make a final decision on the release of these videos when they're available,” Harrison told media.
NOPD says families of victims are given the opportunity to review footage within days of an incident. Some choose not to watch.
In the shootings that played out on the body cam video released to the media Wednesday, both officers were cleared of any wrongdoing and are back to full duty.