Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lying Will Be a Firing Offense for New Orleans Police

Reporter Laura Maggi at the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the New Orleans police havadopted a new policy applicable to officers. From now on, lying can get you fired. 

Now, that's a start.  Here's Laura Maggi's account:

New Orleans police officers who lie while on the job or file a false police report can be immediately fired under new regulations that will go into effect next week.   Superintendent Ronal Serpas (pic with Mayor Landrieu in background) announced the changes, along with several other revisions to the rules governing officer behavior, at a news conference outlining his initial steps to remake the New Orleans Police Department.

Share 'If you lie, you die,' Serpas said, noting that the previous policy would allow lesser reprimands for officers who were untruthful a couple times. 'If you tell this police department a lie about anything, you will be terminated. That has never happened here before.'

In a week when the alleged wrongdoing five years ago of New Orleans police after Hurricane Katrina will be featured prominently in the news, both Serpas and Mayor Mitch Landrieu underscored that they are trying to make improvements that will restore citizen confidence in the officers they interact with every day. There are currently nine ongoing federal probes into the NOPD, many of them stemming from the post-Katrina period.

'In short order, we have made progress on the structure and the culture of the NOPD,' said Landrieu at a news conference also attended by Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and NOPD deputy chiefs Arlinda Westbrook and Marlon Defillo.

Serpas said even an internal change like the revision to what is known in the NOPD as the 'truthfulness' policy will end up being felt by New Orleanians. 'When that resonates through our community, it will be easier for our community to accept the word of a police officer,' he said. [. . . ]

The NOPD has already asked various components of the Justice Department for specific help, according to Serpas' document, including reviews of the homicide unit, as well as providing expert help with domestic violence and sexual assault investigations. Following news reports about the prevalence of sexual assault complaints that are not classified as crimes, the NOPD this month asked the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement to conduct an audit of the sex crimes division, according to the report. [ . . . ]
Along with the changes to the truthfulness policy, the department will also change the report writing rules, allowing the firing of any officer who files a 'false or inaccurate oral or written report.' At issue in three ongoing cases in federal court against NOPD officers is the accusation that police wrote false information in reports, which prosecutors assert was done to cover-up improper police actions.  Another change, which like the others announced by Serpas will be put into place Sept. 1, is the requirement that all officers report to a supervisor any misconduct they observe by any government employee. If they fail to do so, they can be subject to the same level of discipline as the person who committed the offense. Officers will also be required to cooperate with investigations and not withhold information.

Noting that this week marks the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Serpas made direct reference to some of the allegations against police after Katrina, especially the guilty pleas of five former officers in the Danziger Bridge case. Those officers have admitted to participating in a wide-ranging cover-up of a shooting near the bridge in which four people were seriously wounded and two men died.

These actions have overshadowed the great work that many officers performed during the storm, said Serpas.  'The self behavior of people's admitted comments has ripped from the history books the tremendous bravery of so many men and women in this department,'  he said. 'Rightfully so, the insult committed on this community by so many officers is something we can never forget and will never forget.'"
This was, . . . is, a very pathological law enforcement agency.  It will take years to uproot all the bad shoots, but this policy is a good beginning. It's almost unbelievable that the police superintendent felt it necessary to publicly announce this policy.


  1. lying? A firing offense for police? What will New Orleans do without a police force?

  2. Dear Bad Lawyer:
    You should weigh in on the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. They're killing people left and right. The two most recent: A West Point grad outside a Costco and a 21-year-old UNLV student who was selling a little pot on the side. Seems this is up your alley.
    Look at the Las Vegas Review-Journal for all the stories. THe community is pissed (and scared to death).

  3. Anon@5:05 PM

    I'll do as you suggest, thank you for the tip, but I will tell you that the Las Vegas Review-Journal is a very proprietary source of information and is actively going after Bloggers for using its material. I boycott it as do many other bloggers.

  4. Speaking of las vegas did you know that when you go into a vegas police station and try to file a criminal case for assaut or robbery as an example they will not take a typed account of the incident from you but will tell you to just tell them what happened. However while trying to do so they will try to start an argument with you so you will get upset and they will have an excuse to throw you out rather than help you file a complaint.I know this to be true because I witnessed it happening to both me and others firsthand in three different stations while trying to file my own case of assault with witnesses and a confession backing me up. They finally just refused to file and said try a civil court.