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February 15, 2012

Controversy over new scarlet letter approach to properties searched for drugs in Big Easy

10561097-largeA helpful reader alerted me to an interesting new front in the drug war playing out New Orleans as reported in this local article headlined "NOPD to begin identifying properties investigated after drug tips." Here is how the story starts:

New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas announced a new initiative to identify houses that have been investigated for narcotics activity based on citizen tips to Crimestoppers Inc.  Officers will place a bright orange sticker on the property.

New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas holds a sticker that he says officers will begin placing on properties that have been investigated in connection with Crimestoppers tips on drug activity. "We're going to start placarding every house that we do a search warrant on," said Serpas [Tuesday] morning during a press conference at the Old Metairie headquarters of Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans.

Serpas made the announcement in conjunction with the crime-fighting organization's unveiling of a new smart phone application called Tip Submit that will allow iPhone and Android users to anonymously report tips using their portable telephones.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone thinks this new sticker policy is a great idea, as highlighted by this subsequent piece headlined "ACLU objects to NOPD plans to identify properties investigated after drug tips." Here are excerpts from that piece:

The new sticker-initiative was met with near instant criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana. "This is like a scarlet letter tattooed onto the homes of otherwise innocent people, giving them no presumption of innocence," said executive director Marjorie Esman. "People who have not even been arrested, let alone tried or convicted, will be singled out and have their homes marked."

The stickers can be removed at "any time by anyone," according to NOPD spokeswoman Remi Braden, and the glue used in the stickers is "said to cause no damage to property." Esman countered: "If anyone can take it off at any time, then what's the point? Why should taxpayers' money be spent on something that can just be peeled off right away."

February 15, 2012 at 09:31 AM | Permalink


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First they came for the sex offenders ....

Gay or not, everyone should march in the gay pride parades before it is too late.

Posted by: George | Feb 15, 2012 12:15:01 PM

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