New Orleans’ Serpas Getting Flak Over His Stop and Frisk Policy


Armed with tales of New Orleans police officers pulling aside black men with no valid reason, a riled-up audience took little satisfaction yesterday in Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas’ responses to questions about the department’s “stop-and-frisk” policy, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Serpas appeared before the City Council’s criminal justice committee to respond to concerns raised in reports issued last week by Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson’s office and that of Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux. The inspector general’s report said flawed and incomplete record-keeping on the stops made it impossible to determine whether New Orleans cops were engaging in racial profiling. Hutson’s report found a failure to train officers adequately on racial and other profiling, and said cops need to spell out their reasons for stopping people under the auspices of “reasonable suspicion.” Critics chided Serpas for the decades-old practice, which has vastly expanded since he became chief three years ago. Serpas has extolled the practice, calling it a valuable law enforcement tool. Critics say it’s easily abused. Some cited a directive from a lieutenant that called on cops to stop people on bicycles in “the hood.” Serpas called the order “regrettable,” saying the lieutenant was talking “in shorthand.”

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