Spike in 701 releases evidence of a broken system, NOPD Captain says

Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 5:00 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The head of the Police Association of New Orleans (PANO) says a recent spike in 701 releases of crime suspects, outlined in a Lee Zurik investigation, is further evidence of a broken system.

The DA says he may re-deploy manpower to police district stations in an effort to speed up the time needed to bring charges and reduce early releases.

PANO says the New Orleans Police Department is 600 officers below what’s needed and things are getting worse.

“We lost 20 officers in the first month. If we keep this up, we’re on par to have 240 exits this year. We had 150 last year,” said PANO President and New Orleans police Captain Michael Glasser.

Glasser says early 701 releases proof of revolving door
Glasser says early 701 releases proof of revolving door(rob masson)

To make things worse, Glasser says officers are often re-arresting suspects two and three times. Part of the problem is the district attorney’s office takes too long to bring charges.

Zurik’s report points out that until 2021, Orleans Parish had between 60-130 701 releases a year. Last year, when Jason Williams took over, 701 releases shot up to 885.

More: Zurik: Over 880 people, some violent offenders, released without charges in 2021

“That’s a hideous number of 701 releases for a hideous number of crimes,” said Glasser.

Our investigation showed that 29% of the 701 releases appear to be domestic. Others are more serious.

“When you have somebody who was arrested, then you find out they were arrested before and released, and then arrested before and released, and then we claim there’s no revolving door... Well not so much,” said Glasser.

“It is a 60-day issue mostly. There are many things to blame. You always hear police haven’t gotten this report or DNA from the lab. Those are valid, but ultimately the D.A.’s office has to take responsibility for that,” said Fox 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.

This week, Williams committed to returning assistant district attorneys into police districts as a way to help build cases in a timely manner and possibly stem the number of 701 releases.

“Whatever the chief needs, we will figure out a way,” Williams said Thursday.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I assume it will help... if that’s the problem,” said Glasser.

Historically, Raspanti says other D.A.’s have struggled with 701 releases

The question now is; how do you address it?

“Once again, what are we doing to fix it and why did we wait until now? How long do you have to go before you say this is a problem?” said Glasser

Williams blamed the COVID crisis for much of last year’s increase in 701s. He also cited crime increases across the country, as well as a spike in domestic violence cases.

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