The New Orleans Police Department consent decree monitor evaluation committee held its first public meeting today, narrowing a list of candidates to five firms from the 12 that applied. The committee, made up of five representatives from New Orleans city government — which is fighting in court to void the consent decree — and five from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will meet throughout March and April to select a monitor before the court-mandated April 30 deadline.
The city chose three finalists for the contract — likely to be worth between $8 million and $10 million over four to five years — and the DOJ picked two. The cities picks are the Bromwich Group, recently founded by former federal offshore drilling regulator Michael Bromwich; the OIR Group, headed by Michael Gennaco, the chief attorney for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's civilian oversight board; and Washington law firm Shepard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. The DOJ chose California-based Elite Performance Assessment Solutions and Chicago-based Hillard Heintze, which counts former Chicago Police Department chief Terry Hillard among its principals. (Tulane criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf, who attended the meeting, will work as a consultant for Hillard Heintze if it receives the contract.)
Though the committee is holding open meetings — a first for a police department consent decree, said Deputy Attorney General Roy Austin, a committee member for the DOJ — a number of citizens who attended objected to the selection process, characterizing it as falsely transparent. Speaking up throughout the meeting, Sandra Hester said attendees — who were not provided bid details or the applicant firms' names in writing — had too little information to follow the discussion or make informed public comments.
"Here's a so-called agenda," she said, holding to the generic, seven line meeting agenda, that didn't even list the applicants' names. "What did you invite us for? So we could sit here and look at you?"
Prisoners' rights advocate Norris Henderson said the committee provided too little notice and criticized the schedule of early afternoon and morning meeting times. If not for "all these consultants and a handful of reporters," the room would have been nearly empty, Henderson said.
"This is not about transparency. Transparency is having meetings at 6 p.m.," he said. "Where are the victims of police violence?"