During a visit to New Orleans, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez told the Associated Press Thursday that he was “profoundly troubled” by the corruption unveiled in the course of a probe into the city’s police department.
Perez traveled to New Orleans to meet with Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu and Police Superintendent Warren Riley. Perez said he was confident that a new police chief could help change the culture of the department and said he is pleased with Landrieu’s search for Riley’s replacement.
A federal investigation into a post Hurricane Katrina police shooting and a subsequent coverup of the crime by New Orleans police officers is expanding into other allegations of police misconduct. Over the past month, two former police investigators have pleaded guilty to manipulating the investigation into a shooting of unarmed civilians on a bridge after the 2005 storm.
Perez conducted additional business while he was in the area, including tours of several schools and housing developments, according to WDSU television. Background on the bridge shooting here.
UPDATE 6:05 p.m.
Perez spoke about a case he had prosecuted as a line attorney in 1994 against Len Davis, a former New Orleans police officer convicted of the shooting death of Kim Groves. He had hoped the conviction would “usher in changes” at the city’s police department.
“That didn’t happen,” he told the Associated Press during a break from visiting a New Orleans charter school. “One observation that’s inescapable is that the department has a litany of very, very serious challenges.”
“There are not quick fixes to transforming a culture,” he said. “Culture change takes time. Culture change takes perseverance. There’s no quick fix to that, but it can be done. I’ve seen that in other departments.”
Perez planned to return to Washington on Thursday after three days in the city, reported the AP.
In a video interview with a local television station, Perez said that the “Constitution doesn’t get suspended during times when there’s a hurricane.”