New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell called for a quick end to the city police’s federal consent decree Thursday, an order put in place nearly a decade ago to ensure civil rights, the Hill reports. Cantrell said that low morale in the force is driving staffing challenges, tying the problem to what she described as a negative national narrative about police and the federal oversight agreement that went into effect in 2013. “The consent decree handcuffs our officers by making their jobs harder, pestering them with punitive punishment and burying them with paperwork that is an overburden,” Cantrell said. “It’s too much.” The police department and the Department of Justice entered into the consent decree after a DOJ investigation of the force’s alleged pattern of civil rights violations.
The decree stipulates the city can begin the termination process if it believes it has been in full and effective compliance for at least two years. “It seemed like the goal posts would move every time our officers demonstrated real results,” she said. “That it would move every time, keeping us in this consent decree, and I challenged that from day one.” Cantrell said the city attorney’s office is moving forward with the process in the next two weeks. To improve staff morale, Cantrell and Shaun Ferguson, the city’s police chief, announced they were changing policies to allow facial hair and fingernail polish and have purchased 75 new Ford Explorers as part of equipment improvements.