Police corruption is nothing new (especially in this day and age when cops feel like they can get away with anything), but it is disheartening for it to hit so close to home.
On March 30, Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore officially dropped 640 drug cases because of possible corruption in the BRPD narcotics department. The cases, dating back to 2015, were all handled by officers Jeremiah Ardoin and Jason Acree; Acree is even accused of stealing drugs the police seized as evidence.
Ardoin alleges the corruption stems deeper than just himself and Acree. He claims fellow officers often stopped and searched Black people without probable cause, planted drugs on people and coerced sex workers to set up drug dealers. Four other high-ranking officers have been placed on uniform patrol because of these allegations.
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome needs to take time out to fully assess the police department. From manhandling innocent teens to flat-out corruption, the department needs to go through its police force with a fine-tooth comb. The police department already has a strained relationship with the general public and this incident will only further fuel the community’s distrust.
On March 24th, East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved a 3% raise for police officers despite the ongoing corruption allegations. Broome advocated for the raise throughout her campaign. Before this, officers received a separate council-approved raise in December.
The first raise allotted a $1.8 million increase for the operating budget. The new raise will probably require similar figures. This money could have been allocated to dissect and reassemble the department; BRPD officers should not be rewarded for doing their jobs halfway.
At this point, there is no reforming that can be done. BRPD needs to be remade. This news should have made national headlines. There has not been an update in this story since it was first released at the end of March. Transparency should be the most important thing for the department.
These officers deserve to go to jail for what they did. Desk duty or suspension is not enough punishment for any of the officers involved; they deserve more than just a slap on the wrist.
You are an evil individual if you willingly ruin someone’s life. All of those innocent people that may have been ripped from their families for drugs and weapons that did not belong to them — I cannot imagine how many of those 640 cases involved innocent people. Their lives were nearly ruined because of departmental corruption.
Since the cases were dropped, I have noticed an increased police presence. I can’t travel from campus to Burbank Drive without seeing at least two to three cop cars. We should not have to walk on eggshells because the police can’t do its job right the first time.
It’s no secret that cops have a strained relationship with the general public. Mayor Broome and others in power need to take action to mend this relationship. In the last year, the department has been involved in way too many scandals not to at least catch the attention of Governor John Bel Edwards.
We don’t elect people to office for them to look the other way. We elect them so they can make real change. We should be able to trust the police officers in our community. Something needs to be done before we become fed up.
Tamia Southall is a 20-year-old mass communication junior from New Orleans.