A Metropolitan Crime Commission report criticizing New Orleans police for arresting too many petty offenders doesn’t recognize the reality of crime, where people picked up for a minor violation such as trespassing could have long rap sheets, police sperintendent Warren Riley told state legislators yesterday, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. District Attorney Eddie Jordan said the group’s criticism that his prosecutors spend too much time trying drug cases ignores the fact that much of the violence permeating the worst city neighborhoods stems from the drug trade.
The commission recommended that police officers use their discretion more, issuing citations for many municipal or traffic offenses rather than arresting and jailing suspects. Riley attacked that argument, saying officers often arrest people on a minor charge if they see a person has an extensive criminal history. Jordan said the panel’s contention that his prosecutors should focus more on cases against violent offenders misses the connection between drug dealing and violence. Prosecutors seek longer prison sentences for people who are convicted multiple times to get repeat offenders off the street, he said.