St. John sheriff claims no knowledge of arrest quota memo

St. John sheriff claims no knowledge of arrest quota memo
Published: Dec. 18, 2015 at 8:42 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 18, 2015 at 9:12 PM CST
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LAPLACE, LA (WVUE) - The American Civil Liberties Union is blasting a memo out of St John Parish that spells out arrest quotas for narcotics officers.

The sheriff is denying knowledge of the memo, uncovered this week, which was signed by Maj. Walter Chappel with the sheriff's letterhead. It details a goal of 60 undercover cases in 2012, with each narcotics officer responsible for six felony arrests.

But there's a problem.

"There's a good reason why arrest quotas are against the law," said Marjorie Esman with the ACLU.

"We got a discovery package from the D.A., and in it was this quota memo. We all know there's a state law that prohibits quotas. It violates all that we know is just and fair," said attorney David Belfield.

"By mandating that an officer find people to arrest, that gives them an incentive to falsely arrest people if they can't meet their quota," Esman added.

Sheriff Mike Tregre declined a request for an on-camera interview, but said by phone that the memo was Chappel's doing and was never enforced.

"If that's the case, then the sheriff has his head in the sand," Belfield said.

Whether or not the sheriff acknowledges a quota system, this memo is already having an impact on some St John cases.

"It leads to bad policing, false arrests and false charges," said Esman.

"Right off the bat, it's affecting 10 or 15 cases currently before the court," Belfield said.

Local attorneys say if the policy exists, it needs to be revoked.

"We don't have anything to say it was ever retracted. It was in effect through today," said Belfield.

"Whoever is responsible for that memo needs to be disciplined for writing a memo that's against the law," said Esman.

Tregre insisted that there are no quotas in his department, and that the first time he ever saw the quota memo was Friday morning.

The St John allegations come just days out after similar allegations were leveled against the Gretna Police Department.

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