NOPD’s blanket and unjustified policy of releasing all homicide victims’ arrest records must end immediately.
After any killing of a human being in New Orleans, the New Orleans Police Department under Chief Ronal Serpas, automatically emails tens of thousands of individuals the entire arrest record of the homicide victim, most of the time before any suspect of the crime is identified nor their criminal record released. The arrest record of the homicide victim is often completely unrelated and irrelevant to the murder that occurred.
This policy dehumanizes our fellow community members and causes unnecessary pain and hardship for grieving families. The practice is insensitive and has racial overtones sending a message that the “victim got what was coming to them.”
In a city with the highest homicide rate in the nation, a blanket policy of releasing such records does not build trust or confidence in at-risk communities, communities that need to have a positive relationship with law enforcement to report crime and trust that victims and their families will be treated with dignity and respect.
If Chief Serpas' goal is to show that the commission of previous crimes, violent or non-violent and regardless of the length of time that has passed, is relevant and related to being a victim of homicide, then the release of such records could be easily accomplished through aggregate and anonymous data later on, not during the most significant time for grieving and healing from the death of a love one.
NOPD should follow best practices in other cities that have reduced crime. We call on the leadership of our city to prohibit the NOPD from publically announcing the criminal records of homicide victims.