New Orleans saw a stunning political reversal and the very embodiment of strange political bedfellows.  Liberal New Orleans DA Jason Willimas and ultra conservative Governor Elect Jeff Landry announced a prosecution partnership.  This alliance welcomes the state’s Attorney General’s office and a band of state police officers to the city.  The state force will patrol the city’s streets and prosecute all the cases they create. They held a press conference, and many are ecstatic about the announcement.

You see, violent crime and a lack of resources plague New Orleans.   The New Orleans police department is severely short-staffed. And annually the DA seeks a bigger budget to better handle the high caseload.  Local media highlights crime particularly in New Orleans East daily. And listen to WBOK any day and lots of callers demand the national guard  help supplement local officers. People want to feel safer in the city.

Complications from Jeff Landry

So, the shocking and unanticipated collaborative agreement was positively reported and seemingly well received by most.  But the devil is always in the details.  And neither Williams nor Landry offered any details.  Landry just repeated his troubling catchphrase, “everything is on the table.”

There are numerous complicating and troubling factors in this sketchy new marriage.  Since the Attorney General will prosecute the cases brought by the state police, we know the state police will patrol our streets.  But remember, Landry criticizes the federal consent decree.  His concern is that the consent decree limits the ability of the NOPD to effectively fight crime.  And currently the State Police and surrounding jurisdictions completely ignore the rules of the consent decree. But according to the consent decree, if the state police enter New Orleans, even on a sudden police chase, the rules of the consent decree apply. Certainly, a more permanent force assigned to fight street crime in New Orleans is subject to the rules of the consent decree.  So, if the consent decree is the problem according to Landry, then this move makes little sense. 

Complications from Jeff Landry

Also, people expect one set of rules.  Putting people in jail for petty crime is bad for the city.  It’s cost prohibitive and decimates families.  When a man is in jail, he can’t work and pay bills. When a man is in jail for 90 -120 days his whole life is upset.  People lose their jobs, transportation and homes when they don’t pay bills for four months.  And putting people in jail for petty offenses, like personal use amounts of marijuana is no longer the case in New Orleans.  The New Orleans city council decriminalized possession of small amounts of weed.  But statewide the case is very different.  Possession of just two joints can lead to incarceration.  So, will the state police who patrol the city make such arrests? 

You can walk down any city street and smell somebody busting up.  NOPD officers ignore, but will state police arrest? 

We need clarity and consistency, especially from law enforcement.  Teens carjacked Jason Williams and his mother.  The carjacking and other recent gruesome crimes in the city seemly changed Williams’ ways.  The once progressive DA who ran for office promising to never charge minors as adults flipped.  He charged and convicted as adults other teens who carjacked and killed an innocent woman.  And the teens that carjacked him and his mother now face adult charges.  Will NOPD now start arresting people for simple possession of marijuana?  Will the DA start felony charging young people for simple possession?  The devil is in the details. But we have NOLA complications from Jeff Landry already.

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