NEW ORLEANS — Less than a day after initiating a policy of putting signs on houses investigated for drugs as a result of a Crimestoppers tip, New Superintendent Ronal Serpas rethought the idea and canceled it.
“The NOPD will not implement the placarding strategy,” Serpas said in a Wednesday news release. “The intent of this pilot program was specifically to inform anonymous callers that the NOPD had acted on their tips and to encourage more anonymous reporting of illegal drug activity through Crimestoppers. These tips to Crimestoppers have been a very successful tool for many years, but the NOPD is routinely asked if we have acted upon these anonymous tips.”
The signs that were to be placed on houses read, “The NOPD has served a narcotics-related warrant or checked this residence as a result of a Crimestoppers hotline citizen’s tip.”
The octagonal, bright orange stickers were to be put on homes that are under investigation and have been singled out through anonymous tips to the crime-fighting group.
The signs were to go up after officers execute a warrant at the property, regardless of whether drugs are found or arrests made.
Crimestoppers printed up 5,000 stickers at the request of the Police Department.
Critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, argued the proposed crime-fighting tool might target innocent people.
“I recognize that without widespread community support, the placarding strategy will not be successful, so we will not move forward,” Serpas said. “We believe buy-in from the community on policing strategies is vital, so we will continue to engage the public as we develop new policies and programs through Police Community Advisory Boards. The NOPD will continue to find ways to notify the community of our efforts to rid their neighborhoods of drugs.”
Serpas said the placards initiative was put in place when he oversaw the Nashville Police Department, and it worked well there.