NOPD officers in the 5th District are being ordered to increase the number of field interview cards they fill out, and they must pull over at least one bicyclist every day. But as FOX 8 investigates, many in the community feel the orders violate the constitutional rights of residents.
On August 2, NOPD Lt. Carol Aldridge sent an email to members of her platoon in the 5th District. In the email, which FOX 8 obtained, Aldridge writes, "This is an order-1 bike, 2 businesses, 1 walking beat EACH TOUR OF DUTY! did you forget that this was a platoon directive? if you cannot accomplish this, you will be writing a 105 every day to explain why you saw no bicycles violating the law, why you had no time to do 2 business checks, and why you did no walking beat the previous day."
Local ACLU President Marjorie Esman says she takes serious issue with officers being forced to pull over at least one bicyclist a day.
"This presumes that you will see somebody violating the law and it reverses the standard. And what this says is we're going to assume you have a requirement to stop somebody and find somebody breaking the law, and if you don't you have to justify yourself," Esman explained.
In the email, Aldridge also questions why more officers aren't filling out field interview cards. She writes, "I find it hard to believe that out of 13 officers on this platoon, only two are entering fic's!! is this TRUE??"
As part of the recently-signed consent decree with the Justice Department, the NOPD agreed that officers can only pull someone over, and fill out a field interview card on them, if there is reasonable suspicion.
Danatus King, an attorney who is also president of the NAACP chapter in New Orleans, says, "If the force is putting out emails like this right now, directly in opposition to what's contained in that consent decree, then that's telling us that consent decree is not worth the paper it's written on."
Bicyclists in the Marigny have mixed reactions to the orders given to the officers.
Danielle Unger says, "I think it is concerning if it's not based in safety."
Jay Evans comments, "I don't really want to be harassed by the police but generally they're more than courteous to bicycle riders, they give you the benefit of the doubt, and I'm not really too worried about it."
King says he is worried about the email directive and says he's had many people come to him, claiming they've been wrongfully pulled over. King says he is considering filing a lawsuit against the police department on behalf of people who say they were pulled over for no reason.
King says Aldridge's email makes it clear -- officers better improve the number of stops they make and FIC's they fill out, or else.
Aldridge ends her email saying, "I will, beginning next week, look at each officer's stats for the previous week. I will begin by riding with the officer who has the lowest stats-at least four hours each shift-to observe what the officer is and is not doing. if you do not want me in your car with you, observing every move you make, then you need to make sure you are not the officer with the lowest stats!"