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La. governor slams NOPD consent decree, announces return of state police troop

“The [NOPD] is in shambles because of a federal consent decree ... We have to wrestle that away from them, and even if [the judge] gave it to us today, it would take a decade to build that police department back up,” Gov. Jeff Landry said

Jeff Landry

FILE - Gov. Jeff Landry speaks during the start of the special session in the House Chamber on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Baton Rouge, La. (Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP, Pool, File)

Michael Johnson/AP

By John Simerman
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

NEW ORLEANS — Gov. Jeff Landry on Wednesday morning described the New Orleans Police Department as a force “in shambles,” as he outlined plans to return a permanent Louisiana State Police troop to the city.

Landry was at Nicholls State University to name a slate of coastal management leaders when he took time to slam the 12-year-old consent decree — a police reform agreement between the city and the federal Department of Justice — and U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, who oversees it.

“I mean, the New Orleans Police Department is in shambles because of a federal consent decree and a federal judge,” Landry said. “We have to wrestle that away from them, and even if she gave it to us today, it would take a decade to build that police department back up.”

In the meantime, Landry said he would push state lawmakers, at a special legislative session on crime, to “put in place the funding mechanism to get that [State Police] troop up and running.” The special session is slated to start Feb. 19, Landry said.

Morgan has overseen the sprawling reform agreement since its inception under Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration. Landrieu signed the agreement to fanfare in 2012, a year after the Justice Department issued a blistering report that found an NOPD rife with corruption and mired in unconstitutional practices.

The federal monitor who reports to Morgan has reported vast strides by the department since then, and two years ago Morgan projected NOPD would ease onto a 2-year offramp from federal oversight.

But steep losses in officers and evidence of backsliding on reforms prompted Morgan to pump the brakes, drawing fire from both Landry and Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

Landry, who slammed the NOPD consent decree as attorney general and on the campaign trail, hasn’t let up much as governor. His focus on the consent decree in discussing a return of troopers in force to New Orleans comes after violent crime in the city fell by more than 20% last year from historic highs in 2022.

Plans for Troop Nola include a contingent of 40 troopers, sources familiar with the planning say. It would mark the first permanent LSP troop in New Orleans since Troop N, a locally funded troop that policed in and around the French Quarter, disbanded in 2020.

Unlike that operation, which was funded locally, Landry suggested that Troop Nola would operate citywide.

“That troop is not going to be just centered in the French Quarter. This is very important. We’re not here just to protect the French Quarter, ok? We’re here to protect the city and one of the greatest assets this state has,” he said.

Landry gave no timetable on the launch of Troop Nola, saying he was waiting on a plan from LSP Superintendent Robert Hodges.

“We want to make sure that the funding is in place,” Landry said. “For me it’s way more important that we aim before we fire, ok?...Believe you me, I would love to have had them on the ground today. But they are coming.”

Last year, Landry and Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams reached an agreement for the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute criminal suspects arrested by LSP in the city. Williams’ office has declined to release it.


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