September 24, 2021

NEW ORLEANS – Today, New Orleans Public Radio (WWNO/WRKF) and ProPublica, through its Local Reporting Network, co-published with the Times-Picayune/The Advocate, the first part of a year-long investigation into the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the overall lack of oversight and accountability. The ACLU of Louisiana released the following statement in response to the article and the anti-Black police practices taking place in Jefferson Parish.

The statement should be attributed to Alanah Odoms, ACLU of Louisiana executive director.

“It is no secret that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office has a deep-rooted history of racial discrimination and cruelty toward residents of color. The harsh political reality is the Sheriff of Jefferson Parish is wholly unaccountable to the people. This lack of accountability is particularly harmful for Black and Brown communities in Jefferson Parish. A Black person is 11 times more likely to be killed by police than a white person in Jefferson Parish even though Black people make up only 26% of the population. We have a rogue agency that is permitted to operate in the shadows because it has failed to: 1) investigate and document use of force complaints, 2) adopt a timeline and protocol for body camera usage despite being directed to do so, and 3) respond to public records requests from the community, media, and litigants concerning instances of excessive force and misconduct. All residents of Jefferson Parish should demand better of a law enforcement agency that is as funded to the tune of $100M; taxpayers should be outraged by this level of unprofessionalism and corruption. 

The ACLU of Louisiana is calling upon the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana to scrutinize the data and evidence collected by ProPublica and WWNO in this intensive year-long investigation. We also urge a review of the ACLU’s seven pending lawsuits against police departments in Jefferson Parish. The ProPublica report and the ACLU’s litigation together, clearly reveal long-standing racist policies, practices, and customs that have etched deep wounds in communities of color, and which must be immediately addressed. United States Attorneys have a constitutional and ethical responsibility to investigate police misconduct and disclose that evidence to the public. Our community members deserve a full investigation, complete transparency, and justice for the lives lost and harms perpetrated by the JPSO.”

The ACLU of Louisiana has filed seven lawsuits against police departments in Jefferson Parish since launching its Justice Lab campaign last year. Most recently, the organization sued Sheriff Lopinto and several officers from JPSO for the brutal in-custody beating of Xavimen Decquir, a Black man. The lawsuit asserts that JPSO officers violated Mr. Decquir’s constitutional rights by physically attacking him while he was detained at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center. Additionally, the complaint references 12 cases involving men and boys who have died during an arrest or pursuit by JPSO since 2015. All were Black or Latino, and three were minors.