New Orleans Cops Focus On Stopping “Suspicious” Citizens


Every week, New Orleans police brass gather at Comstat meetings and examine maps peppered with little icons representing the burglaries, robberies, auto thefts, and murders in each police district, while discussing how best to deploy patrol and task force officers to solve them, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Since Ronal Serpas became Superintendent earlier this year, a new map has been added, one showing where police have stopped citizens and filled out “field interview cards” based on what they learned, something called a “Terry stop.” (From the Supreme Court’s 1968 Terry vs. Ohio case.)

Under Serpas, these stops — done when a police officer has reason to believe somebody committed a crime or is about to –are being used as a metric of officer and district performance, Deputy Superintendent Kirk Bouyelas said. The new emphasis on field interview cards, usually called FICs, has grown since 2009, when police began entering the data culled from the cards into a centralized database. Aggressively stopping people that police believe suspicious is a staple of urban policing, although it’s also a policy that has generated vigorous public debate in some cities, particularly New York. In New Orleans, the American Civil Liberties Union has raised the question of whether all the stops being conducted were proper, saying the group had received reports from people who said they were stopped for no apparent reason and asked to provide identification.

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