The Office of the Independent Police Monitor (OIPM) is an independent, civilian police oversight agency created by voters in a 2008 charter referendum and which opened its doors for the first time in August of 2009. Its mission is to improve police service to the community, civilian trust in the NOPD, and officer safety and working conditions. The Police Monitor has six broad responsibilities:
- To ensure that all complaints regarding police misconduct are classified and investigated or mediated at the appropriate level and that those investigations are fairly, timely, and thoroughly handled; to ensure that discipline is fair, timely, appropriate, and upheld upon appellate scrutiny. To make information about this review process available to the public.
- To monitor NOPD investigations into use of force to identify violations of civil rights, concerns of officer tactics and safety, risks to life, liberty, and property, and adherence to law and policy.
- To review and analyze aggregate data from complaints, investigations, community concerns, and public policy in crafting recommendations aimed toward improving the quality of services by the NOPD.
- To inform the community about the OIPM, to listen and respond to broader community concerns, and to prepare the community for engagement in NOPD policy and practice.
- To mend police-community relationships by fostering effective police-community partnership.
- To collect police commendations, review and monitor police training and supervision issues, and support a healthy and safe working environment for NOPD employees.
By working with the police and the community we can not only reduce violence but we can create real community – all of us sharing in this city by living according to the rules of mutual accountability and respect. The community we are building will be safe for everyone, regardless of race, socioeconomic status.
Ordinance Sec. 2-1121 , paragraphs 3-12 states that the IPM’s duties are as follows:
(1) Duties and responsibilities:The independent police monitor shall monitor the New Orleans Police Department, particularly in the areas of: civilian and internally-generated complaints; internal investigations; discipline; use of force; and in-custody deaths. The independent police monitor shall review and analyze the numbers and types of complaints; assess the quality and timeliness of New Orleans Police Department investigations; review the adequacy of data collection and analysis; review the public integrity bureau’s policies, procedures, and resource needs; conduct risk management reviews; review the operations and effectiveness of New Orleans Police Department “early warning system”; review specific issues regarding supervision, training, and discipline; conduct relevant pattern analysis; and other tasks to ensure New Orleans Police Department accountability, transparency, and responsiveness to the community it serves.
(2) Complaints:The independent police monitor shall receive complaints alleging misconduct by New Orleans Police Department personnel that he will refer to the New Orleans Police Department Office of Internal Investigations for investigation. The independent police monitor shall develop relationships with community and civic groups that may receive civilian and anonymous complaints against New Orleans Police Department personnel as a supplement to existing complaint intake mechanisms.
(3) Investigatory power:The New Orleans Police Department will advise the independent police monitor within seven days of receipt by the New Orleans Police Department of any complaint of misconduct, classified as a formal disciplinary investigation, disciplinary citation, informal disciplinary investigation, or information documentation. The independent police monitor shall have the power to review the classification of all internal investigations and, in circumstances where the independent police monitor believes an investigation was misclassified, to recommend to the New Orleans Police Department that it be reclassified. The independent police monitor shall also review and monitor such investigations by the office of municipal investigations.
(4) Public reporting requirements:The independent police monitor shall have the power to recommend that an internal investigation be reopened if he determines that the investigation was not thorough or fair. The reopening-of-case-recommendation provision only applies to the very limited instance where the statutory time limit permits. If the New Orleans Police Department declines to accept the recommendations of the independent police monitor relative to the classification of an investigation, a line of questioning, reopening an investigation not deemed to have been appropriately completed, or any other recommendation, the independent police monitor shall issue a public report relative to the refusal. All completed investigations reviewed by the independent police monitor shall be accompanied by a report in writing to the New Orleans Police Department stating whether the investigation was considered fair, thorough, timely or insufficient.
(5) Police commendations:The independent police monitor shall also compile data regarding commendations and shall identify officers, units, and precincts that have been commended by the public for doing exceptional work. Such information shall be presented in public reports. The independent police monitor will note patterns in commendations and urge the New Orleans Police Department to share commendation information widely within the department and identify practices and initiatives that should be emulated broadly throughout the department. No provision of this section shall violate the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights.
(6) Civilian complainants:Civilian complainants who have tried unsuccessfully to obtain a meaningful status report on a complaint they initiated, may, upon request, receive such a status report from the independent police monitor. Civilian complainants who are dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation they initiated may request a review by the independent police monitor of the completed New Orleans Police Department investigation. When he deems it appropriate, the independent police monitor may recommend that such an investigation be reopened and report to the complainant whether he has recommended any further investigation. The reopening-of-case-recommendation provision only applies to the very limited instance where the statutory time limit permits.
(7) Civil claims and lawsuits:The Independent Police Monitor shall review patterns relating to civil claims and lawsuits alleging New Orleans Police Department misconduct, payout amounts over time, units disproportionately represented as subjects of claims and lawsuits, related training, and other issues. The independent police monitor shall review the investigation of the underlying incidents described in such claims and lawsuits, whether those investigations predated the filing of a claim or lawsuit or the investigations were initiated following such filings.
(8) Recommendations to police superintendent:The independent police monitor shall evaluate complaint trends and other information and investigation practices. The independent police monitor shall make recommendations to the superintendent to improve upon policies and practices based on national best practices.
(9) Training review:The independent police monitor shall periodically review training sessions and schedules to identify best practices and any need for improvements to training curriculum or frequency.
(10) Public accountability:The independent police monitor shall distribute information about its office, duties and functions. The independent police monitor shall issue complaint and commendation forms in languages and formats accessible to residents. The independent police monitor shall be required to hold at least one public outreach meeting in each council district of the city at least once every four months. The independent police monitor shall be required to meet with each police association a minimum of three times each year.