Gambit recently reported on the growth and expansion of powers in the state Office of the Inspector General. Under a revamp ushered in by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the office now has the authority to investigate every corner of state government, including the executive branch. Investigators also can subpoena almost anyone and have access to confidential law enforcement databases. It's a far cry from the group of glorified auditors that started the office under former Gov. Buddy Roemer. However, the office has taken on some powers that lawmakers never intended.
Act 831 of the 2008 regular session clearly states the office's new duties "shall not include arrest powers," but seven IG employees, including Inspector General Stephen Street, were granted special officer commissions last year from the Louisiana State Police, giving them full arrest powers. At the time, Street said he had no intentions of allowing arrests to be made.
While no related bill has been filed yet in the current legislative session, Senate Bill 423 by Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, would allow Street to hire and fire "former investigators and law enforcement persons" as reserve investigators. The gig wouldn't be a paid position, but the state would have to reimburse "expenses incurred during the course and scope of performing their official duties." Appointments would be for one year and could be renewed annually. The legislation would allow each reserve investigator to apply to the superintendent of state police for a special officer's commission — the same commission that grants arrest powers and runs counter to previously stated legislative intent. — Jeremy Alford