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New Orleans Pays $13M to Families of 4 Killed by Police During Katrina

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

The city of New Orleans announced the settlement several civil lawsuits for $13.3 million in in civil rights cases stemming from several New Orleans Police Department-involved incidents surrounding Hurricane Katrina in August 2005

On Dec. 19 Mayor Landrieu issued an apology, saying “Today, we acknowledge a dark moment in our history. The brutal Henry Glover, Danziger Bridge and Raymond Robair incidents left us all disappointed and ashamed.”

The city has settled three federal lawsuits with 17 claimants for just over $13 million.

In partnership with the City Council, the City has prioritized resolving some of its long-term federal liabilities and old judgments. The City issued bonds this year in the amount of $10 million and will so again next year to satisfy legal judgments and pay legal liabilities.

Reform effort

The NOPD is in the midst of the most comprehensive reform effort in the United States. When Mayor Landrieu took office, he invited the Department of Justice to partner with the City to strengthen and reform NOPD.

The City has invested more than  $50 million in the consent decree to completely transform NOPD. The City has driven major reforms, including beefing up sex crime investigations, use of force investigations, and hiring and training practices.

The City strengthened the Public Integrity Bureau to target misconduct and brought on an Independent Police Monitor, invested in over 800 body worn cameras to further improve transparency, modernized the NOPD Crime Lab and new evidence processing facility, and created a Police Community Advisory Board in each district to develop a formal partnership between police and residents.

NOPD launched Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) – a peer intervention program for officers to help police and support each other to do the right thing. The City also invested $4 million in a state-of-the-art software that allows NOPD to electronically capture an officer’s personnel file and track areas of support needed before incidents occur.

Mayor Landrieu added, “These cases could have been a substantial lingering financial burden for the City, but instead of kicking the can, we did the hard thing and made this a priority— the City will be better off in the long run because of it.”

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