NEW ORLEANS -- Activists have called upon police officers across the country to turn to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) as their role model for handling protests and other demonstrations in their communities.
Baton Rouge and Jefferson Parish police officers in particular have been pinpointed.
The NOPD announced in July that they have had no officer-involved shootings since the year began – an achievement that presents a stark contrast to the numerous police-related violence across the country.
“NOPD officers have not fired their weapon at any human being this year,” announced Ursula Price of the Independent Police Monitor’s Office, according to The Advocate.
This accomplishment was revealed during the 2016 convention of the Green Party of Louisiana. Price told The Advocate how the lack of any shooting related to police officers in New Orleans is an encouraging sign toward a better community. She shared that this discipline from the NOPD leads the department toward the development of an improved police force.
“We are making progress," she told The Advocate.
With this in mind, civil rights activists encourage other communities to follow the lead of New Orleans and implement similar reforms. In particular, activists noted that Baton Rouge needs to look into the efforts of the NOPD to make sure that civil protests are handled better.
They also urged officers from other agencies or jurisdictions, such as the state police and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, to follow suit. Aside from the police officers themselves, activists also are encouraged to recognize the NOPD’s efforts and support that kind of reform moving forward.
Price acknowledged that this accomplishment from the NOPD is an important step toward progress. She not only commended the New Orleans police officers, but also advised them to take on the lead role in the fight against police-related violence and brutality. Price stated that NOPD officers can serve as leaders or role models to others.
“There’s a great opportunity for New Orleans to take some leadership in the region,” Price said, according to The Advocate. “We are ahead of the curve in terms of police accountability.
The Baton Rouge Police Department is predicted to benefit most in adopting the NOPD reforms. The need to implement better police procedure and guidelines in Baton Rouge became even more pressing after the death of Alton Sterling. The situation worsened days following the incident as several protests resulted in police officers and activists clashing in the streets.
The Black Youth Project 100 and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the police department of Baton Rouge in connection with the demonstrations staged after Sterling’s death.
Mandisa Moore-O’Neal with the Black Youth Project said the Baton Rouge Police Department used “excessive force” in dealing with the activists. According to her, police officers were determined to put a stop to the activists who were exercising their rights under the First Amendment.
“It’s clear that not only are there many excessive force violations, but that its purpose was to quell the First Amendment activity that was popping up all over Baton Rouge,” Moore-O’Neal told The Advocate. She added that officers “had a mission, and it was to stop people from protesting this murder, and I’m glad to say it didn’t work.”
Sterling was a 37-year-old black man who died after two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers shot him at close range. A video of his death was recorded by several bystanders in the area. The footage, which was aired on various outlets, sparked protests all over Baton Rouge and prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case.