PANO: City Council shouldn’t choose police tactics

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NEW ORLEANS — The president of the Police Association of New Orleans says the New Orleans City Council should not decide what tactics are available to officers. PANO’s Michael Glasser says that instead, the council should tell police what results it wants and allow the department to choose the tactics needed to get there.

Glasser is a captain with the department who has decades of experience and has served as a district commander as well as his current post of leading the narcotics unit. He was responding to two measures passed by the council during its meeting on Thursday.

One of the measures places stricter guidelines that must be followed for officers to use tear gas as they did on a crowd in June that was protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. The second instructs the department to submit a plan that prevents the use of no-knock warrants, the kind of warrant that was used when officers in Louisville, KY, shot and killed an innocent woman, Breonna Taylor.

Glasser says that outside of situations when a suspect is barricaded inside of a building, the department almost never uses tear gas. Also, he says that no-knock warrants are only used in specific cases and after much consideration is given to the various possible outcomes.

But Glasser also says that the department’s federal consent decree already prevents officers from using pepper spray. He doesn’t want the city council to begin removing more of officers’ options.

“I think was improvident for any decision that limits our ability to address the things that they expect us to address and leave us with no tools to do it,” Glasser told WGNO News.

The council’s vice president, Helena Moreno, introduced the no-knock warrant measure and said that while she’d hoped to outright ban their use, she could not because state law provides for no-knock warrants. So a ban would have to come from the legislature. Instead, the council’s resolution called on the NOPD to create stricter guidelines that would prevent their use. The NOPD has 60 days to create the guidelines and report back to the council.

“This tactic is being banned across the country because it is dangerous. It is proven to put civilians and officers in harm’s way,” Moreno told the council.

Councilman Jay Banks led the tear gas effort, saying that tear gas should not have been used on the protesters in June.

“We’re intentional in making sure the New Orleans Police Department is as best as it can be,” Banks told council members. “We worked very closely with NOPD and other national stakeholders to confect this,” he continued.

The council’s restrictions on tear gas use include a requirement that officers warn people before it is deployed. Glasser agrees with that, saying it will give people, especially anyone with a respiratory medical condition, an opportunity to withdraw.

But Glasser is concerned that the council will continue to place too many restrictions on officers.

“It’s kind of like having the cafeteria workers decide how the operating room in the hospital is going to be outfitted,” Glasser said. “…leaving us only with going hand-to-hand combat and firearms, which is not what we want.”

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