SERPAS DROPS PLACARD STRATEGY
New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas last week made the quickest policy turnaround the department has seen during his tenure — announcing a controversial new crime-fighting strategy Feb. 14, then rescinding it within 24 hours. Serpas announced that officers would begin placing large orange stickers on homes where police had executed drug searches based on a tip from the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline.
The idea immediately drew criticism and mockery from civil rights activists and people on social networking sites. NOPD responded with a defensive press release, saying, "When a judge issues a search warrant, it's because he or she believes there is a possible threat to citizens' safety and a definite need for law enforcement to investigate a situation further," and "Stickers can be removed at any time by anyone who owns the property."
Serpas defended the program, saying it had been used successfully in Nashville, where he worked as police chief. Unlike Serpas' recently nixed policy of including murder victims' arrest records in press releases, which the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department ceased after he left, similar stickers are still in use there today.
Nevertheless, NOPD reversed the policy Feb. 15. "I recognize that without widespread community support, the placarding strategy will not be successful, so we will not move forward," Serpas was quoted as saying in an emailed press release. — CHARLES MALDONADO