The Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released its findings that the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) engaged in misconduct and violated the Constitution. Following an investigation dating back to May 2010, the DOJ found that members of the NOPD failed to properly investigate accusations of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, stated, "These findings unfortunately are reminiscent of the sex bias findings of the 1991 Christopher Commission regarding the Los Angeles Police Department. For violence against women to truly be reduced police violence must be eradicated."
Margie Moore, Director of the Center for Women and Policing, stated "Unfortunately, this is policing at its worse. The degrading impact on women and all people in the community who reported violent crimes and were improperly investigated can never be repaired. It is hoped that with DOJ mandating certain training and procedures that the faith in the police and women who report crimes of violence to them can be restored. Without an unbiased police force and leadership there can be no true justice for women. NOPD should take this time to examine their recruitment procedures and establish protocols that will weed out those who care not for upholding the constitution."
The Department of Justice report stated, "We find that NOPD has systematically misclassified large numbers of possible sexual assaults, resulting in a sweeping failure to properly investigate many potential cases of rape, attempted rape, and other sex crimes....The documentation we reviewed was replete with stereotypical assumptions and judgments about sex crimes and victims of sex crimes, including misguided commentary about the victims' perceived credibility sexual history, or delay in contacting the police."
Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women's Law Project, clarified, "This is a long overdue acknowledgment of gender bias in police practice and we hope police departments throughout the United States will begin self-audits of their practices."
DOJ investigators also found that the NOPD and discriminated against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people, used excessive force, and failed to offer adequate services to non-English speakers.
Media Resources: Statement of the Department of Justice 3/17/11; Statement of the Women's Law Project 3/16/11