NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - “We heard your complaints. We heard your concerns,” says Chief Michael Harrison.
NOPD Police Chief Michael Harrison with Mayor Latoya Cantrell by his side, announced the results of a major drug bust earlier this month.
“We know that rounding up, as it relates to drug trafficking and drug crimes, they almost always lead to other crimes that are committing on the streets of New Orleans,” says Mayor Cantrell.
Harrison said the NOPD, along with other law enforcement agencies, acted on tips from the public to arrest and lock up 71 drug suspects.
“The police did take them off the street. They made the arrests and took them off the street. Some would say the revolving door is letting them out again is not really taking them off the street,” says FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.
Of the 71 drug suspects arrested 69 percent of them were out of jail and back on the street in less than 10 days after the news conference.
FOX 8 followed all 71 suspects through the court system and found that the majority of them received bonds of $5000 or less.
Five of the suspects received a bond of $350 or less.
“Under the rules, it says a Judge is supposed to consider a threat to society, to others or yourself or your risk of flight, a component of that is how many prior convictions you have,” says Raspanti.
Police arrested Daniel McCoy as part of the roundup on August 8, and booked him with two counts of distribution of cocaine. Before setting a bond, the Magistrate Judge is given what’s called a Public Safety Assessment Report that includes the person’s criminal history and also rates their risk to the public. McCoy’s criminal history included one felony and one misdemeanor. According to the report, he also failed to appear in court, twice. His risk level was a 3 out of 5. McCoy received a $2000 bond. He bonded out of jail a couple days later.
Police arrested John Moore on August 7, and booked him with distribution of cocaine and distribution of marijuana. Moore has a lengthy criminal history that includes nine felony convictions and one misdemeanor The Public Safety Assessment report listed, ‘The defendant has arrests in Plaquemines, Orleans and Oklahoma with dispositions unknown.’
His risk level was a 3.
A Magistrate Judge set Moore’s bond at $4500. Moore and McCoy are two of the 51 suspects that were able to bond out of jail within a couple of days of their arrests.
“I think the Judges who have the ultimate discretion are being nudged one way by the state legislature who wants to cut down on prison rolls versus the police department who made a lot of arrests and risks themselves and the DA who wants to keep these people in jail so he can prosecute them,” says Raspanti.