NEW ORLEANS—In an effort to continue to increase police transparency and accountability, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison announced a new process today (Feb 24) that outlines when and how the department will release its own audio and video recordings of critical incidents involving NOPD officers to the public. The new process, which has been approved by the Federal Monitor and the Department of Justice, allows for the public release of recordings that capture critical incidents, such as officer-involved shootings, based on a clear set of guidelines that include collaboration with local and federal criminal justice agencies.
Click here to read about the new process
“Now more than ever, critical incidents involving law enforcement officers are being captured on video, and we have to be proactive in how we communicate this evidence to our community,” said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison. “In collaboration with the DOJ and our federal consent decree monitor, we’ve designed a clear process that outlines when and how we will make these recordings available to the public during these types of investigations. These recordings help to eliminate he-said-she-said accounts of an incident and provide an unbiased account of events. This new level of transparency in critical incident investigations will help us continue to build trust between our officers and our community. As we continue to grow, I am committed to doing everything we can to continue to be transparent with the public about the way we are policing.”
In 2014, the NOPD took a major step to increase transparency by launching one of the most aggressive Body Worn Camera (BWC) programs in the country. Today, every NOPD officer who responds to a citizen call is equipped with a BWC that captures the interaction. In addition, all marked police vehicles are equipped with an in-car camera system that can capture audio and video recordings of police interactions. When these recordings of critical incidents are available, the NOPD will work quickly to release them to the public based on this new process, as long as the release is consistent with the legitimate needs of on-going law enforcement operations.
Timeline for public release of critical incident videos
The process for whether or not a recording of a critical incident involving an NOPD officer will be released to the public will start with the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau (PIB), which investigates all uses of force by NOPD officers in partnership with the FBI.
Within 48 hours of a critical incident, PIB will provide any recordings recovered from the scene to the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office, the NOPD Compliance Bureau and the United States Attorney’s Office. These agencies will advise on whether the recordings should be made public. The group will consider several factors, including the nature of the incident, the safety and privacy concerns of the individuals involved and whether or not the release of any recording would interfere with the on-going investigation. PIB must then make a final recommendation no more than seven days after the critical incident.
Within 48 hours of receiving the group’s recommendation, the Superintendent of Police will determine whether or not the recordings will be released to the public. Any recordings released to the public may be redacted to protect the identity of a juvenile, protect privacy of victims, witnesses or suspects, or to ensure the safety and security of anyone involved in the critical incident. The department will ensure that any recording that is released will adequately portray the critical incident and will identify any redactions made.
If the recommendation is made to not release the recording, the NOPD will make the federal judge overseeing the consent decree, Department of Justice and the Consent Decree Monitor aware of the decision.
The new process is in place effective immediately. Once approved for release, recordings will be made available on the department’s website at www.nola.gov/nopd.