NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - New Orleans police are seeing a spike in arrests of fellow officers; four just this month. WGNO News Anchor Vanessa Bolano looks at what’s being done.
Four veteran New Orleans police officers are finding themselves suspended and on the wrong side of the law. This past week two were locked up.
On Tuesday, 26-year-veteran Officer Willie Gant Sr. was arrested on two counts of indecent behavior with juveniles and sexual battery on a juvenile. Days earlier, Officer Stephanie Caldwell was booked with felony charges of domestic violence. Reports show she was trying to run over her husband and instead lost control of her car.
The two incidents don’t stand alone. On July 14th, Officer Christopher Carter was charged with domestic abuse battery, and battery involving strangulation, and three days earlier Detective Robert Hurst was booked with simple battery. His attempted murder charge has since been dropped.
Attorney Raymond Burkart with the Fraternal Order of Police says the allegations have affected everyone on the force.
“Whether or not there’s some pattern here, or is it all coincidental, I think it’s too early to tell. I don’t think we have an epidemic in our department. We never did, but the fact is the law mandates strict enforcement and the new batch of laws that’s going to take effect at midnight tonight has even more enforcement and more severe penalties,” says Burkart.
Burkart says they’ve spoken to officers about the new batch of domestic violence laws that include new gun laws, divorce laws, alimony laws, and protection from stalking.
“That’s a sad day, but it’s also a day of recognition that we are not going to tolerate misconduct that’s illegal and we’re going to go and make those arrests,” says NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas.
Chief Ronal Serpas says his officers are trained to know right from wrong, and the department has a zero tolerance policy. He says since he’s been Superintendent they’ve arrested 79 officers, but both Burkart and Serpas believe stress on the job is not an excuse.
“They do need more help. they do need more backing. that doesn’t mean they are all turning into domestic violence abusers. it’s not going to happen. it doesn’t happen,” says Burkart.
The four officers arrested in July have been placed on emergency suspension without pay pending their investigations.