JPSO sheriff discusses tactical tools after deadly police ambushes
JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - The recent deadly ambushes of law officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas continue to prompt local police and sheriff's offices to look inward.
"What I encourage the men and women in the leadership here, look, I want to know all of our warts, and I want to know where we're good and where we're not good," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.
He said in terms of the latest equipment, his department is on solid ground.
"We've had patrol rifles in our vehicles for a long period of time…We have ballistic helmets, we have shields, we have knee pads, we have shin pads, we have tactical bulletproof vests," he said.
He agreed it would be cost prohibitive to purchase tactical equipment packs for all JPSO patrol officers.
"You can't keep it in your trunk because the heat actually degrades the quality of this equipment, so we have these in special bags and we have it in a climatized storage area, and we have it designed that we can quickly deploy," he said.
The protective vests officers typically have at their disposal daily are no match for long guns.
"The typical vest will handle a projectile that travels somewhere between 1,700 feet per second and 2,100 feet per second, 2,100 being really a stretch. If you look at the type of weapon that was used in Baton Rouge, that round is traveling somewhere around 2,900 feet per second and 3,100 feet per second," said Normand.
In New Orleans, the NOPD is doing an inventory of its resources and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison is making the rounds speaking to officers after the deadly policing killings.
"We talked about those things that are forthcoming," Harrison said. "Those things that are practical and reasonable and that could be applied out in field."
In Baton Rouge, law enforcement was criticized for showing up at protests with heavy, military-type equipment.
Normand said after the unrest in Baltimore, his department had extensive discussions with authorities there about lessons learned and new equipment was purchased.
"It may be offensive to some folks to see us dressed like that," Normand said. "If you want me to tie-dye the materials that cover these things, I'll do it. You want me to put daisy stickers on it, I'll do that, too. It doesn't matter, but I'm not getting less than the best, it's not going to happen."
Dillard University Criminologist Ashraf Esmail weighed in on the changing dynamics of law enforcement.
"Citizens being in the wrong place at the wrong time, now law enforcement has this question of being at the wrong place, now they're being ambushed in common areas, and common places, so this extra protection I don't think it's a bad thing," said Esmail.
Esmail thinks that it is a good idea that some local departments are now having two officers respond to calls, but he also notes that that means there are fewer officers to go around elsewhere.
"The more you combine law enforcement, the less people they have in the area, and the other issue that comes to mind is are law enforcement going to be more fearful going into certain areas now because of these situations of being ambushed? Is community policing going to be on the decline?"
Normand said they have no choice but to equip for the uncertainty of the streets.
"Some people in Congress that are talking about trying to compel us tell us to get less than the best, the day they do that I'm out," he said.
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