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The Breakdown: Kennedy wants 'Stop-and-Frisk' in New Orleans, but its already happening

While Sen. Kennedy calls for stop and frisk, they are already happening in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS — This week, Senator John Kennedy called for the city of New Orleans to allow NOPD to use stop-and-frisk to prevent crime.

We’re going to take a look at those statements and what’s already happening in your Breakdown.

Let’s start with Kennedy’s 30-minute speech.

He took the Senate floor and began by saying New Orleans is under attack. He also said, “We’ve [The City of New Orleans] tried everything but one thing: Stop and frisk.”

He also said, “It is time to allow the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department to use stop and frisk without fear of losing their jobs.”

Kennedy made similar statements in 2015, when he was state treasurer, and again in 2017 on Eyewitness Morning News.

But these kinds of stops are already happening in New Orleans.

NOPD performs what are called “Terry stops.” The nickname comes after a 1968 Supreme Court ruling, Terry v. Ohio, which set guidelines for what is considered constitutional under the 4th Amendment.

Per the law, and per NOPD’s Terry stop policy, “Officers may only conduct stops where there is reasonable suspicion that a person has engaged, is engaging, or is about to engage in criminal conduct.”

After every stop, officers must submit an electronic report with a whole list of information including the date, time, location, and duration of the stop, and the ethnicity, race, age, and gender of the person who was stopped. They must also detail whether any search was performed, whether anything was found, and what the initial probable cause was.

You can see a copy of that policy here.

An audit of these stops and searches last summer showed that 90 percent were fully compliant with all NOPD guidelines, training, and constitutional law. You can see a copy of that audit here.

But Kennedy believes New Orleans Police have been far too conservative with stop and frisk procedures. He said minority communities and low-income residents in New Orleans are most at risk for crime.

He said on the Senate floor, “Statistically, it is more dangerous to be young and Black in New Orleans than it was to be a Marine in the Battle of Fallujah during the height of the insurgency in Iraq.”

But it’s worth noting, stop and frisk policies have been criticized for a history of abuse and racial profiling. New York City’s policy was deemed unconstitutional after it was discovered that 80 percent of the city’s millions of stops were of Black and Latino people.

Kennedy is right that there’s been a sharp decline in the number of “suspect persons” stopped and searched since 2018. That’s according to the City Council Crime Dashboard. We’ve reached out to NOPD for exact numbers on how many Terry stops were performed in 2022.

But the declining number of stops goes hand-in-hand with a steadily declining number of officers working in New Orleans.

So, while Kennedy calls for stop and frisk, they are already happening. And there may not be the officers right now to do more.

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