New Orleans Police Continue Making Arrests for Minor Offenses During Covid-19 Pandemic
Despite the national emergency declared over the COVID-19 pandemic, New Orleans police are continuing to make arrests for minor and nonviolent offenses, the Washington Post reported this week. Among the crimes cited in the Post report were theft and trespassing.
Yet across the nation, law enforcement agencies are making fewer arrests and jails are releasing many of those facing less serious crimes as the institutions themselves must make room to treat inmates who become sick.
Observers say the New Orleans approach could further have devastating consequences on the area already deemed a “hot spot” for the coronavirus and where the medical infrastructure itself is in critical condition. Gavin Yamey, who specializes in global health, told the Post that jails worsen the spread of the virus given the revolving door nature of the players in the judicial system.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson warned the public that officers would continue to enforce the law, yet they can exercise discretion on whether to issue citations, according to the Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate.
Still, those who are arrested are entitled to due process. While courthouses are closed to the public at large, the judicial system is operating with magistrates, commissioners and judges holding first appearances and setting bonds through teleconferencing and videoconferencing.
The Law Office of Robert S. Toale remains open to assist people accused of crimes and those who need help navigating the legal system during this time.