Report: Nearly 1 in 5 NOPD Officers Reported for Sexual and/or Intimate Partner Violence

Photo Credit: Daniel X. O’Neil | License

According to a recent report, sexual violence by New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers has become an everyday practice of policing. In fact, on average, there is a complaint of sexual violence filed against an NOPD officer every 10 days. Further, the report shows that officers are often allowed to resign without any investigation: of the 254 NOPD officers who left their job between 2019-2021, 90 percent had been reported for misconduct in the previous year.

The report comes on the heels of recent national headlines – former NOPD officer Rodney Vicknair pled guilty in November to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old rape victim.

“By centering survivors – particularly Black girls, women, and queer people in the South – we can better understand the scope of the everyday violence of policing,” the report states. It goes on to say that there is an urgent need for moving resources away from policing and towards social programs centered on survivor’s needs, affirming bodily autonomy, and focus on crime prevention rather than policing and punishment.

Of the 944 officers currently employed by the NOPD, around 190 have at least one complaint of sexual and/or intimate partner violence. Of those officers, 26 have two or more complaints, and 5 officers have three or more complaints. The highest number of complaints for one officer still employed by the NOPD is 64. However, NOPD often dismisses these claims: only 22 percent of sexual harm or intimate violence complaints were sustained by the department, and only 14 percent of rape and sexual assault complaints were sustained.

There is a suggestion that perhaps the NOPD is not properly investigating these claims, and may be allowing officers to resign without an investigation taking place. Of the officers with publicly available misconduct records, 90 percent of the officers who resigned between 2019 and 2021 were reported for misconduct or use of force within the previous calendar year, and 97 percent had a misconduct complaint within the previous two calendar years. However, it’s not clear from the report how many of those misconduct allegations were for sexual or intimate partner violence.

The report, compiled by a group calling itself the “Umbrella Coalition,” uses data from annual reports of misconduct allegations released under a federal consent decree by NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau. It also sourced data from the Louisiana Law Enforcement Accountability Database created by Innocence Project New Orleans. While the members of the coalition are unnamed – a website for the group claims they are “a collective effort by organizers, advocates, and attorneys” – they have received endorsement from some of New Orleans most active mutual aid and social justice nonprofits, including:

  • The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans
  • Women with a Vision
  • Court Watch NOLA
  • The Promise of Justice Initiative
  • The People’s DA Coalition

Released before the recent city budget hearings, the report appears to have been – at least in part – an effort by coalition members to garner public support for reducing NOPD’s budget in addition to bringing attention to the issue of sexual violence by NOPD officers. A list of demands published on the group’s website alongside the report included statements that the mayor and the city council “must not use any federal, taxpayer, or philanthropic funds” for NOPD recruitment or retention. However, the report wasn’t spread widely by local media, and those demands were not acknowledged by the council, administration, or NOPD.

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