The city of New Orleans’ top inspector has accused its police force of multiple failures to properly investigate sex crimes, in a damning new report.
Detectives ignored reports of sex crimes, failed to follow up on reported sexual abuse cases and routinely failed to provide documentation of sexual investigations, often writing up questionable case files, according to a report released by the city’s inspector general.
The report identified 1,290 sex crime incidents from 2011 to 2013 assigned to five detectives; only 179 (14%) included supplemental reports showing that they properly pursued and investigated those cases. In 450 cases with initial investigative reports filed by the detectives, 271 (60%) did not include documents showing that there was any additional follow-up.
While the report didn’t name the detectives, it did describe multiple instances where additional investigation appeared warranted, but wasn’t pursued. In one case, an infant was brought to an emergency room with a skull fracture from what a nurse described as “suspected non-accidental trauma.” The detective, however, did not investigate the incident further and closed the case.
In another case, involving a different detective, a woman who told police she had been sexually assaulted and that her iPhone had been stolen. But there was no follow-up investigation nor apparent efforts made to track her phone or obtain phone records.
The New Orleans police department has a history of mismanagement and problematic practices and has been under federal court supervision since 2012 in part due to issues like those raised by the inspector general’s report.
The federal oversight came about in part due to issues in investigating sexual assaults, with detectives often misclassifying or reclassifying sex crime incidents as lower-level “miscellaneous” offenses, leading to citywide numbers appearing lower.