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NOPD Task Force message

Date: Mon, Apr. 05, 2010

It is with deep regret, and only after many attempts to help rescue the credibility of the NOPD Superintendent Task Force, that each of us has determined we must communicate our grave concerns about the process to our constituencies. This conclusion has meant that we are no longer able to serve on the Task Force, whether we have stepped down or have been removed by Task Force leadership.

In either case, we have determined that our input is not desired to the extent we were led to believe, and that we can better serve our communities as external observers of the process, with freedom to comment on proceedings without reservation.

Everyone wants—and needs—this search to succeed, to result in a strong and effective new police chief for New Orleans. Ultimately, Mayor-Elect Landrieu alone bears the solemn responsibility of finding a police chief who will bring equitable public safety to our city. It is Mr. Landrieu who must answer to his decision, win or lose, and we respect his right to choose the person he sees fit. At this time, it seems that further community input is neither desired nor needed as part of the actual decision-making process; the Transition team has called for a halt to further internal comment on the search process. So it falls to us to hold the process accountable to the community’s concerns as outside observers.

We hope that the transition effort, and the new administration once Mr. Landrieu is inaugurated, will work in the future to ensure that when the community's voices are called upon, our full voices are heard, respected, and made productive use of. We are available as casual consultants when that is required; but we do not expect to have our names and credibility attached to decisions that we have only very restricted input on.

Briefly put: The police chief search process is in turmoil. As far as specific concerns about the search, we each have a slightly different focus, as representatives of overlapping but different constituencies. Yet some points of concern we hold in common include:

1. The public survey administered in early March was not the survey drafted by Task Force members during our meetings. We were not given an opportunity to review the survey before it was released, nor even provided with the survey at the same time as the media.

2. After considerable effort soliciting and listening to public input, we have no assurance that this input will play a role in assessing initial applicants.

3. Suggestions made by Task Force members throughout this process have been for the most part either denied or ignored entirely.
Task Force requests that to this day have not received any response include:
*Access to Task Force meeting minutes
*A productive solution to the second public meeting of this Task Force, as promised by Mr. Landrieu
*Availability of the IACP contract for general Task Force review (this, incidentally, could have saved valuable time spent debating points that were apparently decided by IACP contractual stipulations long ago)
*Regular email updates to Task Force members, alerting us to progress and decisions made impacting the search.

Task Force requests that have been denied include:
*Opening Executive Committee proceedings, during which most decisions are made, to additional Task Force members by request or invitation, in order to ensure that the Executive Committee reflects the community as broadly as possible
*Access to the list of attributes forming the initial candidate assessment matrix, to be used by the IACP for the first cut of applicants
*Access to the full applicant pool by a small team of Task Force members
*More frequent meetings
*Additional time for the entire process.

What we have been asked to do is solicit input from our communities (this is accomplished) and submit suggested interview questions for finalists (this can be done without our presence on the Task Force). Initially, Mayor-Elect Landrieu also asked us to deliberate on which search firm to hire, and in general to actively develop a process representative of all our voices. However, these discussions did not take place within the full Task Force, but were presented to us after decisions had been made and contracts signed.

We sincerely hope that, in spite of flaws that have prohibited our continued participation as Task Force members, the remaining body can help the Mayor-Elect to find a police chief who will serve all communities. We urge remaining members to take the time and care required to accomplish this, for the sake of us all.

In particular, we call upon Mayor-Elect Landrieu to reclaim direct management of the search for a new police chief; to re-focus this chaotic and deeply imperiled process; and to live up to the community accountability he has promised in this most important of his decisions as our new Mayor.

Norris Henderson, V.O.T.E. NOLA
Gina Womack, Friends and Families of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children
Baty Landis, SilenceIsViolence