NEW ORLEANS – A fired up Sheriff Newell Normand on Wednesday defended police action and the officers who shot and killed a "drug-dealing gangster" Monday.
During the tirade at a press conference on Wednesday, the sheriff also said legalizing and decriminalizing pot would not stop drug related violence.
"We are thinking about decriminalizing marijuana, and we think all of this s*** is going to go away when we do, so, hello?" Normand said. "The havoc it will wreak on our streets will be insurmountable."
In a fit of rage, Normand pointed to a larger problem as he defended his deputies' actions during the shootout that killed Desmond Willis on Monday. Deputies say Willis was a drug-dealing gangster who bragged about his lifestyle in videos post online.
The sheriff said the recent attention thrown on shootings involving his deputies this year is misplaced.
"We want to point out four officer-involved shootings?" said Normand. "Why are we not talking about the drug dealing? Why are we not talking about the fear of the families of my deputies?"
"I think the sheriff actually made his own case why we need to take the step to go all the way to legalization because, yes, a decriminalization bill will not stop the black market, but, however, a regulated industry would," said Kevin Caldwell, the executive director of CommonsenseNOLA, a local group that supports legalizing pot.
Caldwell said legalizing pot would help create a better relationship between police and the community.
In fact, crime stats in Colorado shows both violent crimes and property crimes are down since pot became legal, and Caldwell said part of that is because of the jobs and economic boost the marijuana market has created for the state.
"Those are thousands more people that have good paying jobs and benefits, and those sorts of citizens are a lot less likely to engage in reckless behavior," says Caldwell.
Still, in a survey done by LSU, a majority of people in Louisiana are against legalizing pot, but the gap between supporters and opponents is shrinking.
State Rep. Dalton Honoré, D-Baton Rouge, recently filed a bill that would allow voters to decide whether pot should be legal when they fill out their ballots in 2016.