Use of Force

The OIPM is required by City Code § 2-1121 to monitor the quality and timeliness of NOPD’s investigations into use of force and in-custody deaths.

Use of Force Case Summaries
Crescent City Connection Tear Gas Incident – Case Summary — June 3, 2020
PIB#2019-0133 - Officer Ron Howard
PIB#2019-0089 - Officer Lawrence Jones and Officer Byran Bissel
PIB#2019-0001 - Officer Jonathan Fowlkes
PIB#2018-003 - Officer Emilio Aleman and Officer Jerome Newsome

Investigations and Levels of Force

NOPD uses of force are investigated accordingto their levels. “For reporting and investigative purposes, the Department categorizes use of force by its members into four (4) force reporting levels:”[1]

  • Level 1 – the lowest level of force, may involve “pointing a firearm or CEW at a person and hand control or escort techniques,”
  • Level 2 – includes the use of a Taser (CEW); use of an impact weapon to strike a person but where no contact is made; use of a baton for non-striking purposes,
  • Level 3 – includes any strike to the head (except for a strike with an impact weapon); use of impact weapons where contact is made (except to the head), regardless of injury; or the destruction of an animal.
  • Level 4 – the highest level of force, includes all ‘serious uses of force’: lethal force, critical firearm discharges, uses of force that cause serious injuries, hospitalization, or loss of consciousness, neck holds, canine bites, multiple Taser applications.

Use of Force Review Board

In the 2012 Consent Decree, NOPD agreed to “develop and implement a Use of Force Review Board (UFRB) to review all serious uses of force and other FIT investigations.”[2] According to the Consent Decree, the UFRB is to review FIT investigations, hear presentations from the lead investigator, determine whether force violated NOPD policies, and refer to PIB for discipline if the policy was violated. Additionally, the UFRB is to “determine whether the incident raises policy, training, equipment, or tactical concerns, and refer such incidents to the appropriate unit within NOPD to ensure they are resolved.”[3]

On December 6, 2015, NOPD implemented a chapter of its Operations Manual which established a “Use of Force Review Board.”[4] According to the Operations Manual, The Use of Force Review Board (UFRB) serves as a quality control mechanism to ensure timely reviews of all serious use of force investigations to determine the appropriateness of the investigative findings, and to quickly appraise use of force incidents from a tactics, training, policy, and agency improvement perspective. [5]

The voting members of the UFRB are the Deputy Superintendents of Field Operations Bureau, Public Integrity Bureau, and Investigations and Support Bureau. [6] Other NOPD chiefs and commanders serve as non-voting members, and outside groups like OIPM and the Office of the Consent Decree Monitor have been invited to listen and participate in discussion.

At each of the approximately monthly UFRB hearings, PIB investigators make presentations regarding critical incidents involving NOPD officers and make a recommendation to the Board about whether the use of force was justified or not justified. The Board and other present representatives then discuss the use of force, and the Board then votes whether the use of force was justified or not. Often the Board makes recommendations about needed training practices or considers whether changes to policy are needed.

[1] See Appendix A, Levels of Reportable Use of Force from NOPD Operations Manual, Chapter: 1.3.6, Paragraph 10-15.

[2] United States v. City of New Orleans, E.D. La. 12-cv-1924, R. Doc. 2-1 at 32.

[3] Id. at 33.

[4] NOPD Ops. Manual Chapter 1.3.7

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at ¶ 2.

Accountability breeds response-ability.

― Stephen R. Covey