Sunday, November 19, 2006

NOPD: Of Standards and Fees …

NOPD lowers standards!

The T-P reports that the New Orleans Police Department has voluntarily withdrawn from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The NOPD has been accredited by CALEA since the 1990s.

In a news release, Police Superintendent Warren Riley cited "overwhelming structural and financial devastation" imposed on the city by Hurricane Katrina as the reason the department expected it would not be able to meet the accreditation standard.

"A full recovery is expected to take another one and a half to two years, during which time the department hopes to re-establish its infrastructure, technology and personnel levels," Riley said, adding that the NOPD will seek reaccreditation with CALEA in the future.

Will New Orleans' fees kill jazz funerals?

The LATimes reports that the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of one of New Orleans' best-known traditions: the "second-line" dance processions and jazz funerals that regularly take place on city streets.

The suit claims the city of New Orleans and the governor's office are imposing excessive fees and unfair permit rules on organizations that hold parades. The city raised fees after one person was killed and several others were wounded this year at shootings at two parades.

The higher fees start at around $1,200, and a state bond of $10,000 must be posted as well. ACLU lawyers said that would prevent many so-called Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, renowned for their processions and funeral marches, from conducting parades and would infringe on their 1st Amendment rights.

"The policies that are currently being enforced are a curtailment of their freedom of speech and expression," said cooperating attorney Carol Kolinchak.

"If we do not get relief from the court," said Joe Cook, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, "then this tradition will be taxed out of existence."

The ACLU is representing the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force, which comprises 21 groups, and other plaintiffs. The defendants are the city of New Orleans, Mayor C. Ray Nagin, Police Supt. Warren J. Riley and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.


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