Two former police chiefs and a researcher discuss how to improve law-enforcement practices.
BY Juleyka Lantiqua-Williams | PUBLICATION The Atlantic
Philando Castile was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. His girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, broadcast the aftermath of the shooting live on Facebook. The video leaves a trail of questions about the sequence of events, and the actions that led to Castile’s death. It also reinforces a broader question: How can police better train and equip officers to serve and protect the public?
In search of some answers, I turned to some people who have deep expertise in these matters. Two of them are former police chiefs, and another is a leading authority on police training in the United States. Ronal Serpas, a former New Orleans police chief, is a professor at Loyola University New Orleans and the chair of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, which advocates for the end to widespread incarceration.
STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT – United States of America
The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) has primary responsibility for law enforcement in New Orleans, Louisiana. The department’s jurisdiction covers all of Orleans Parish, while the city is divided into eight police districts.
After New Orleans was founded by French colonists in 1718, the policing of the city was done by military forces. These were alternating French, Spanish and French under differing governmental rule. The formation of the New Orleans Police Department was first recorded in 1796, during the administration of the Spanish Colonial Governor, Baron Francisco Luis Héctor de Carondelet. The account said, “Crime had reached such proportions by the mid-1790s that a full-time city police force was required.” On February 29, 1803, Mayor Étienne de Boré held the first Council Session and appointed a committee to inspect prisons and formulate rules and police regulations. Pierre Achille Rivery was appointed as Commissioner General of Police and placed in command of twenty-five men. After numerous complaints, these men were dismissed.
The council authorized the hiring of free people of color, who were to be commanded by white officers. During French and Spanish years, a relatively large class of free people of color had developed in New Orleans, many of whom had become educated and property owners. Of mixed race, they had become established as a distinct class in the society, between the ethnic European residents and the mass of mostly African slaves in the region.
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Tracey Meares, a professor at Yale Law School and a member of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, has trained thousands of police officers around the country, including in Chicago and Oakland, via the Trust & Justice initiative. Donald Grady II, a retired police chief with over 30 years in uniform, served in multiple cities. (I also reached out to the Justice Department. A spokesperson declined to comment on police training in general, or on the Castile case specifically.)
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