State lawmakers have authorized a study that could recommend reorganizing New Orleans' law enforcement agencies — including the potential merger of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office.
State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, has filed a bill to create the Orleans Parish Law Enforcement Streamline and Accountability Commission, which would be tasked with determining the feasibility of merging NOPD with the Sheriff's Office, and possibly even electing the police chief. Morrell's bill calls for 11 commission members, including the mayor, some City Council members and the Inspector General, among others. The commission would meet every other month, with at least two meetings in New Orleans a year. If approved by lawmakers, the commission would draft a report and make recommendations to the state Legislature.
Morrell also filed a measure to create the Law Enforcement Management District of Orleans Parish to "facilitate cooperative endeavor agreements and memorandums of understanding with various agencies having law enforcement jurisdiction" in the city in order to "provide better police protection." Its board membership would include the mayor, City Council members, officers from local universities, levee and port police and other law enforcement groups in the city.
The bills are the latest in Morrell's ambitious 2015 lineup, which includes measures to strengthen sex education in New Orleans and streamline procedures for sexual assault prosecution on college campuses. — ALEX WOODWARD