Last week the New Orleans Police Department reached an agreement with the United States Department of Justice to completely overhaul and reform the city's police force that has been plagued with scandal over the last several years.
Known as a consent decree, the 122-page statement calls for hundreds of new department policies, including governing the use of force, arrests and searches and seizures.
According to the New York Times, there have been eight "troubling episodes" that were investigated by federal law enforcement officials, including a shooting in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where officers shot and killed two people and wounded four others at the Danziger Bridge.
Mary Howell, a New Orleans lawyer who has represented victims of police abuse, told the news source that federal scrutiny of federal rights took a nosedive after the September 11 attacks, as many resources were devoted to security.
"We went for seven years in New Orleans with virtually no federal enforcement of civil rights law, and it killed us," she said, adding that many anti-corruption campaigns breeze right through the city. "That seems to me to be the real challenge of this effort – doing something that sticks."
The reform costs will be paid by the city, according to the agreement, which city mayor Mitch Landrieu estimates to be $11 million each year for the next five years. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder suggested that some of the money could come from federal grants.
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