Gusman says Mayor's administration needs to show leadership
Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman has blasted the city administration over its efforts to vacate federal consent decrees mandating reforms within the NOPD and in the operation of the Orleans Parish Prison.
Gusman has released a statement which read, "The city administration has been very inconsistent. Less than a year ago it hailed the Police Consent Decree as a new day for the City of New Orleans. Now it has asked a federal judge to vacate the consent decree and says the city doesn't need it. What happened?"
Gusman contends funding for the Parish Prison is "clearly" the responsibility of the city administration. He also claims that the city was represented during the Sheriff's negotiations with the Department of Justice.
"The administration needs to show leadership and fulfill its obligation to properly fund the public safety system of this city, which should be its top priority," Gusman said.
The city has asked a federal court to reject a plan by the U.S. Justice Department and the sheriff to reform the Orleans Parish Prison - a plan that the city says it would have to pay for even though the sheriff runs the facility.
The Justice Department and the sheriff Marlin Gusman agreed to the plan in December. That upset city officials, who said it would add to the city's financial burden under a separate reform plan for the NOPD. Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Justice officials announced that much-heralded plan last July but the city tried to back out of the agreement in January amid a public rift with Justice lawyers.
The police reform plan is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars in the coming years. Meanwhile, the city is responsible for funding the prison, which is run by Gusman. The current budget provides more than $22 million for the Sheriff's Office this year.
In its court filing, the city accuses the Justice Department, the Sheriff's Office and representatives of the prisoner-plaintiffs in the jail case of collusion in negotiations that didn't include the city. The city also pointed to a financial scandal at the prison. The city's filing came days after two high-ranking officials there, one of whom recently resigned, were charged with taking bribes.
Rather than approve the consent decree, the city argued, the court should place the prison under the authority of a federal receiver.
Enforcing the consent decree at the expense of the city could force the city to cut personnel or services - affecting public safety - the city argued.