Governor pushes back against 'stop and frisk' practice for New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards disagreed with suggestions that New Orleans police officers should use stop and frisk as a crime fighting tool.

"I'm not prepared today to say I support stop and frisk, but there are so many other ways to get a better handle on the crime problem in New Orleans," Governor Edwards said.

Edwards' comments come after top political leaders supported using the controversial police practice.

Governor Edwards believes additional funding for crime cameras, and license plate readers soon to be installed in the city are tools that will help curb violent crime as well as aggressive and visible patrols from multiple state law enforcement agencies already in the city.

"We need a comprehensive plan going forward. Obviously, this is going to fall to the next mayor and the city council, critically important that we get it right," Edwards said.

"Crime is out of control, especially violent crime in this city," La. Attorney General Jeff Landry said.

Landry and U.S. Senator John Kennedy have come out in support of stop and frisk.

"Stop and frisk has been a legal, authorized law enforcement technique for decades. Limiting the ways police officers can do their jobs, which is to enforce the law, will only make the crime rate continue to rise," Landry said.

Landry would also like to remove the consent decree the city, NOPD and the Department of Justice entered into in 2012.

"The federal government should stop micromanaging our law enforcement officers and how they police. As the chief legal officer of our State, I support proactive policing methods and stop and frisk has proven to be one of them," Landry said.

The suggestion to implement stop and frisk has gotten backlash from the ACLU, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the NOPD who say officers already stop-question and frisk based on reasonable suspicion. Superintendent Michael Harrison said what Landry and Kennedy want is profiling.

"That's the kind of behavior that put us in a consent decree because it's unconstitutional," Harrison said. "That's what we deal with, the behavior of a person, which raises our suspicion to give us the legal reason to stop which we do all the time."

Edwards conceded with the state budget crisis still an issue and the economic boost New Orleans tourism brings in, making the city safe is a top priority.

"It creates a lot of revenue. The kind of revenue we like because most of it, or an awful lot of it at least, comes from individuals who don't live here in Louisiana but come in as tourists and spend their dollars. Obviously, if we want that to continue, we have to be a welcoming safe place so it is important," Edwards said.

The City of New Orleans received a multimillion dollar grant to combat crime. One of the biggest pieces of that initiative is a command center which will have cameras across the city and provide video in real-time to alert officers of a crime in progress.

The command center is already under construction and expected to be up and running by October, according to Landrieu's office.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.