NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson can soon deputize city workers to allow them to issue citations for a variety of city code violations.
The police department shared new details about the upcoming plan. In it, the heads of the city's sanitation, public works, homeland security, and mosquito, termite & rodent control departments can request to deputize an employee whose job requires them to issue citations.
NOPD Deputy Superintendent Otha Sandifer said that deputized employees would only be allowed to issue citations and they have no arrest powers, no authority to carry weapons, and can't issue court summons. All citations will be issued in person to the violator and there will be no badge issued by the NOPD.
The motion was authored by councilmember Jay Banks, though it was opposed by council president Helena Moreno who said she wanted to see more details about the program and its training.
At a Dec. 16 council meeting, local visual artist Reggie Ford voiced his concern about the program, pleading for city leaders to be careful about deputizing unarmed city workers. Ford said he has seen how people respond to armed police officers when they write citations in Jackson Square.
Ford says he wonders how people will react when unarmed city workers try to issue those citations.
"It can go zero to 100 real quick. And if you're not trained to deal with those situations, you can get hurt quick," Ford said.
Sandifer said that there will be some training provided by the NOPD, and deputized workers should not engage if they ever feel they are in a situation where their safety is at risk. Instead, they will be advised to call the police department.
Ford says he doesn't see how that training will make a difference.
"The city is a mess. You are asking somebody with little to no training into one of the most complex things going on in America right now, New Orleans," Ford said.