James Gill: Truce between New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux, Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson a big win _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux, foreground, leaves a press conference where he and Howard Schwartz, Assistant Inspector General Investigations, left, spoke about the reporting of sex crime cases by five NOPD officers who often recategorized sexual complaints as miscellaneous also speaking at the press conference is new NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison, background center, at NOPD headquarters in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.

This election cycle, the people of New Orleans are faced with an important decision regarding the future of the oversight of reforms within the New Orleans Police Department.

Since the establishment of the office of the Independent Police Monitor, the office has worked closely with the NOPD to monitor police investigations, to help improve transparency within the department, to review police training and put forth recommendations for improvements, and to facilitate a mediation process that helps bridge the divide between the community and the police. The office of the Independent Police Monitor, as its name suggests, needs to be fully independent and adequately resourced in order to perform its role successfully.

Currently, there is a proposed amendment to the city charter on the ballot that helps to get the Office of the Independent Police Monitor the autonomy it needs to continue its important work for the people of New Orleans. The charter amendment corrects for several key issues impacting the functionality, autonomy and quality of the Office of the Independent Police Monitor as well as the Office of the Inspector General and the Ethics Review Board The amendment was drafted through a cooperative process between the City Council and the three entities. First, the amendment corrects for a conflicting structure in which the Ethics Review Board approves Office of the Inspector General salaries and benefits, and the Inspector General approves the Ethic Review Board budget.

The amendment takes the 1-percent general fund allocation established by the original charter amendment and allocates a fixed rate to each entity, eliminating the current conflict. The amendment also includes a new provision that requires that all three entities undergo a peer review process that helps to ensure that they are operating according to the professional standards outlined for each of their respective units. Even our watchdogs need watchers and this provision puts in place steps to make sure that the Office of the Independent Police Monitor, Office of the Inspector General and Ethic Review Board are working with integrity on behalf of the people of New Orleans. Finally, the charter amendment gives the Office of the Independent Police Monitor the ability to secure outside counsel in the event that a conflict should arise with the City of New Orleans or the NOPD, while also giving the Ethics Review Board sole authority to appoint an Independent Police Monitor. These changes are necessary to improve the effectiveness of each of these units and to improve their autonomy so they may better serve the people of New Orleans.

We support the 2016 ballot initiative to separate the Office of the Independent Police Monitor, the Office of the Inspector General and the Ethics Review Board. The Urban League implores you to get out the vote and support our city’s continued improvement. Your vote matters.

Erika McConduit

president and CEO, Urban League of Louisiana

New Orleans