Yes, there are bad cops everywhere, but the corrupt, racist, and violent New Orleans police department — in which officers engage in rape, arson, kidnapping, bank robberies, and murder, and citizens are arrested for little or no reason, held without charges for months, and routinely brutalized and tortured — is a different matter altogether. It is little exaggeration to say that the NOPD has become a criminal gang terrorizing the city’s residents. The New Statesman reports:
Something terrible lies at the heart of New Orleans – a rampant, widespread and apparently uncontrollable brutality on the part of its police force and its prison service. The horrors of its criminal justice system from decades before Hurricane Katrina and up to now lie somewhere between, with little exaggeration, Candide and Stalin’s Gulags.
Spit on the sidewalk here, and you may be arrested – New Orleans has the highest incarceration rate of any city in the United States – and if you’re poor and black and can’t pay bail, you will enter a place where any protection under the American constitution and the Bill of Rights is stripped away. You will wait weeks or months to be charged, whether innocent or not, and in the meantime you will be subjected to foul, overcrowded jail conditions, prisoner-to-prisoner violence and the brutality of the deputies who guard you.
On 17 March this year, the federal department of justice (DoJ) decided that enough was enough and it has made moves to have the New Orleans police department (NOPD) placed under the supervision of a federal judge. The New Orleans jail system will likely follow.
The department released a report covering only the past two years and ignoring several current federal investigations of police officers for murder. It says, more or less, that the NOPD is incapable on any level; that it is racist; that it systemically violates civil rights, routinely using “unnecessary and unreasonable force”; that it is “largely indifferent to widespread violations of law and policy by its police officers” and appears to have gone to great lengths to cover up its shootings of civilians. “NOPD’s mishandling of officer-involved shooting investigations,” the report says, “was so blatant and egregious that it appeared intentional in some respects.”