NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder will announce a sweeping federal consent decree Tuesday to reform New Orleans's long-troubled police department.
A person with direct knowledge of the plan said the agreement between the Justice Department and the city will be signed and filed in federal court and Holder will speak in New Orleans. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been made public.
The reforms that Holder will announce are expected to be some of the broadest and strictest ever imposed on a police department. They will be overseen by a federal judge.
The department has been plagued by decades of corruption and mismanagement. It came under renewed scrutiny after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked the Justice Department for the review in 2010. The mayor will join Holder for the announcement.
A spokesman for Landrieu wouldn't comment on Tuesday's announcement, which comes on the eve of President Barack Obama's visit to New Orleans. Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech at the National Urban League's annual conference here on Wednesday.
Last year, the Justice Department issued a scathing report that said New Orleans police officers have often used deadly force without justification, repeatedly made unconstitutional arrests and engaged in racial profiling. The report also found that the department has long failed to adequately protect New Orleans residents because of numerous shortcomings, including inadequate supervision.
At the time, Landrieu said many of the problems identified by the report were exposed by Katrina but existed for years before the storm smashed levees and plunged the city into a state of chaos.
The Justice Department's civil rights division also launched a series of criminal probes focusing on police officers' actions during Katrina's aftermath.
The investigations resulted in charges against 20 officers, including five who were convicted last year of civil rights violations stemming from deadly shootings of unarmed residents on a New Orleans bridge less than a week after the 2005 storm's landfall.
The officers convicted in the Danziger Bridge shootings were sentenced to prison terms of up to 65 years. Five others pleaded guilty to engaging in a cover-up plot that included a planted gun, phony witnesses and fabricated reports.
Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, has expressed hope that a consent decree will provide a "comprehensive blueprint for sustainable reform" that will reduce crime and restore the public's trust in the police department.
"Culture change does not occur overnight," Perez said after the sentencing hearing for the officers convicted in the bridge shootings. "The challenges that we saw manifested in the Danziger Bridge trial were many years in the making and they will take many years to resolve."