The Consent Decree Monitor (CDM) is a Court-appointed team with expertise in constitutional law, law enforcement, and outcome measurement. The CDM is responsible for observing and reporting the policy development, training, and implementation of practices by the NOPD as prescribed in the Court-ordered Consent Decree. The CDM is independent of the City of New Orleans, the NOPD, and the Department of Justice and serves as the United States District Court's "eyes and ears" relative to implementation of the reforms mandated in the Consent Decree. The role of the Monitor is explicitly governed by the terms of the Consent Decree under the oversight of the Court. While the Monitor will be involved in engaging the citizens of New Orleans as it reviews, audits, monitors, and evaluates NOPD compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree, the Monitor is not intended to, nor is it permitted to, replace or assume the role and duties of the City or the NOPD.
The Consent Decree Monitor's role is not to replace or duplicate the function of the City's Independent Police Monitor ("IPM"). The IPM maintains its current duties and responsibilities, including its responsibility to monitor the NOPD, receive citizen complaints alleging police misconduct, and issue public reports. Importantly, the IPM, not the court-appointed Consent Decree Monitor, will remain the primary New Orleans entity for receiving citizen complaints involving the NOPD through its website (www.nolaipm.org), by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by phone (504.681.3217).
The mission of the Consent Decree Monitor is to serve as the eyes and ears of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana throughout the implementation of the NOPD Consent Decree by assessing and reporting on whether the requirements of the Consent Decree have been implemented and whether that implementation is resulting in the constitutional and professional treatment of individuals by the NOPD.
On July 24, 2012 the Parties submitted a proposed Consent Decree to the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, in an effort to resolve the claims brought by the United States without resort to adversarial litigation and to support vigorous and constitutional law enforcement. The Court granted the Parties' joint motion to approve the Consent Decree on January 11, 2013.
After reviewing the several competing proposals as well as the Parties' memoranda, the public's letters, and the transcripts and audio records of the public hearings, the Court selected Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP as the Monitor on July 5, 2013. In selecting the Sheppard Mullin team to serve as Monitor, the Court explained its reasoning as follows:
First, the duties of the Monitor closely track the kinds of activities that are the bread and butter of legal practice. The Monitor is not primarily responsible for formulating policies-that task falls to the City and the New Orleans Police Department ("NOPD") in the first instance. The Monitor is instead primarily responsible for reviewing the policies that the City and NOPD draw up to ensure that they comport with the requirements of the Consent Decree and constitutional policing-precisely the kind of advisory role that lawyers are accustomed to playing. Similarly, the Monitor is not primarily responsible for implementing policies. The Monitor instead has the obligation of assessing compliance with the policies. That kind of institutional investigation and assessment, which involves the collection, review, and synthesis of large amounts of information, is also a task that lawyers, particularly lawyers at firms like Sheppard Mullin, routinely perform. The Monitor also has the responsibility to report to both the Court and the public in clear and concise terms. It goes without saying that lawyers are trained to communicate with and report to courts, and the Sheppard Mullin team makes a strong case for its competence in communicating with the public as well.
Following the Court's selection, the Parties and the Monitor worked together to negotiate the specific terms of the monitoring engagement. The Court subsequently appointed the Monitor, by Court Order, on August 9, 2013.
The role of Monitor is to "assess and report whether the requirements of "the Consent Decree" have been implemented, and whether this implementation is resulting in the constitutional and professional treatment of individuals by NOPD." The Consent Decree further provides that the "Monitor shall be subject to the supervision and orders of the Court . . ," and that the "Monitor shall only have the duties, responsibilities, and authority conferred by this Agreement." The Consent Decree makes clear that the "Monitor shall not, and is not intended to, replace or assume the role and duties of the City and NOPD, including the Superintendent."
Who we are
The Sheppard Mullin monitoring team brings the academic, legal, and law enforcement communities together to meet the shared objective of ensuring that police services are delivered to the people of New Orleans in a manner that complies with the Constitution and laws of the United States. Core members of the monitoring team include the following:
- Jonathan Aronie (Primary Monitor) is a partner in Sheppard Mullin's Government's Contract and Internal Investigations Practice. Since 1994, Jonathan has conducted complex internal investigations and compliance reviews for a wide range of Fortune 500 companies. Jonathan previously served as the Deputy Independent Monitor over the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department. Prior to private practice, Jonathan served as a law clerk to the Honorable Patricia Wynn, DC Superior Court, where he spent most of his time in the Juvenile Crimes division. Jonathan is a graduate of Duke University School of Law. He is cleared at the highest levels and frequently handles cases involving national security issues.
- David Douglass (Deputy Monitor) is a partner in Sheppard Mullin's Government's Contract and Internal Investigations Practice. In private practice, David represents corporations and individuals in civil and criminal investigations, litigation, and prosecutions. Prior to entering private practice, David was an Assistant United States Attorney and then a DOJ civil rights prosecutor, where, among other responsibilities, he investigated and prosecuted excessive force cases. In addition to extensive trial experience, David also brings significant experience reviewing the actions of law enforcement agencies. In 1994, he served as Executive Director of the U.S. Treasury Department's Review of White House Security. Prior to that, he was Assistant Director of the Treasury Department's investigation of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas. David received his law degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his undergraduate degree from Yale College.
- Chief Dennis Nowicki (Deputy Monitor) is a senior law-enforcement professional whose career spans over forty-nine years of public service. Retiring as Chief of Police for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina in 1999, Chief Nowicki also has served as Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and Chief of Police for Joliet, Illinois. Since retiring from Charlotte-Mecklenburg, he served as the executive director of a COPS funded regional community policing training institute and, more recently, has concentrated his work on assisting police departments and DOJ in matters relating to managing police use of force. Chief Nowicki has served on the teams monitoring the District of Columbia Police Department and the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department.
- Chief Theron "T" Bowman currently serves as a Deputy City Manager in Arlington, Texas. He served as the Chief of Police in Arlington from 1999-2012. Dr. Bowman received his Ph.D. in Urban and Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington and has served on the faculty of several universities teaching Sociology, Criminology, and Criminal Justice courses. Dr. Bowman has been inducted into the George Mason University Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame, recognized by the African American Peace Officer Association as "Officer of the Year," selected by the John Ben Shepperd Leadership Institute as an "Outstanding Local Texas Leader," and has received Proclamations of Achievement from both the Texas State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Chief Robert McNeilly is the current Chief of Elizabeth Township, Pennsylvania. Prior to moving to Elizabeth, Chief McNeilly served as Chief of Police of Pittsburgh, PA from April 1996 to January 2006. Chief McNeilly led his department through a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree in the mid-1990s, resulting in his department reaching substantial compliance and being released from the consent decree monitoring. He was also active as a United States Coast Guard Reserves Chief Petty Officer from 1987 to 2011, and is a United States Marine Corps veteran.
- Chief Mary Ann Viverette served as Chief of Gaithersburg, Maryland for 21 years. As the first female president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Chief Viverette led the agency through organizational change, while embracing the diversity of the community, and while facing the dramatic changes the population faced. In addition to serving on the Maryland Chiefs of Police Training Committee for over a decade, Chief Viverette, as a pioneer woman police chief, was often called upon to speak on issues affecting women and minorities in law enforcement. She conducted dozens of training sessions on the recruitment of women and minorities over a fifteen year period and has served as an Investigator with the Department of Justice.
- Chief Chet Epperson served as Chief of Rockford, Illinois for over nine years. Chief Epperson, a thirty-five year police verteran, has served in all ranks of the police department - Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Deputy Chief. He serves as an instructor for the Illinois Law Engorcement Training & Standards Board Executive Institute and provides management accountability training on use of force for the Illinois Association Chiefs of Police. Chief Epperson is serving his second year appointment from the Illinois Supreme Court as a Hearing Officer for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Chief Epperson serves as a Director for Americans for Effective Law Enforcement (AELE) and Chairman of the Hates Crimes Subcommittee for the International Associations of Chiefs (IACP) Police Civil Rights Committee and is a member of the Police Executive Research Forum and the Illnois Chiefs Association.
- Dr. Geoffrey Alpert is a Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina and an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Excellence in Policing and Security, Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. He is an internationally recognized criminologist who specializes in research, training and the evaluation of high-risk police activities, including the use of force, deadly force, pursuit driving, racial profiling and accountability systems. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Research Advisory Council.
- Tracey Kennedy is a partner in Sheppard Mullin's Litigation and Labor & Employment Practice Groups, working out of New York and Los Angeles. Tracey has extensive experience working in the area of race, gender, and other forms of discrimination cases, and has extensive experience working with employee unions. In the late 1990s, Tracey was retained by the County of Los Angeles to monitor the discriminatory hiring practices of the Sheriff's Department. Tracey has been named one of the country's "top woman litigators" by the Daily Journal.