The Office of the Orleans Independent Police Monitor (OIPM) is an independent, civilian police oversight agency created in August of 2009. A Police Civilian Review Task Force recommended its implementation in 2002. In 2006, a coalition of community groups brought their concerns about the New Orleans Police Department to the New Orleans City Council. By 2008, the city council supported the Police Monitor’s Office in a resolution. In 2008, the Police Monitor’s Office, along with the Office of Inspector General, were voted into the city charter by over 70% of the New Orleans electorate.
After a public selection process, Police Montitor Susan Hutson was selected on April 23, 2010 and took office in June of 2010. Prior to the beginning of her tenure on June 14, 2010, the OIPM met with the new Mayor and new Superintendent of Police in May. Both pledged to cooperate with the mission of the IPM, which made for a new start between the OIPM and NOPD. Prior cooperation had been negligible, which resulted in a dearth of information for the IPM’s initial Annual Report. After a thorough search, the OIPM welcomed its Executive Director of Community Relations in October of 2010. The new Director has reinstituted the OIPM’s quarterly Council District meetings, prepared handouts and conducted trainings regarding the public’s rights and responsibilities during encounters with police. The Deputy Police Monitor took office in April of 2011 and the Office of Police Monitor was fully staffed for the first time.
One of the OIPM’s first acts was to follow through on the Inspector General’s (IG) offer to procure an internal affairs database for the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau. Additionally, computers and a scanner were provided to help facilitate the sharing of information between PIB and the IPM. The database will be a monumental tool in achieving the objectives of the office.
The crowning achievement of 2010 was the successful collaboration with the NOPD on a protocol that is a blue print for the sharing of information between the two departments. The agreement represents a milestone in the NOPD’s path to regaining the trust of the public by embracing transparency and oversight.
2010 also heralded the OIPM’s first official recommendation to the NOPD. This recommendation was to establish a new “critical incidents” investigations team to be under the leadership of the Deputy Superintendent of the Public Integrity Bureau. This team and its investigators will be more readily available to the OIPM to monitor. The recommendation was formed after the OIPM was present during the investigations of several Officer Involved Shootings (OIS) and was able to observe the current investigative process. This recommendation is also timely in that the spotlight has been turned on the criminal trials of officers involved in questionable shootings and cover-ups of the resulting investigations.