Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana has now apparently disbanded an illegal police force that he had going around arresting people in New Orleans. He called it the Violent Crime Task Force, but it was arresting people on petty, non-violent drug crimes, and without any legal authority.
On Tuesday, June 13th, U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan voiced concern that Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has exceeded his legal authority by empowering “special agents” to make arrests in New Orleans, according to a court transcript obtained exclusively by The Bayou Brief.
Morgan, who oversees compliance with the consent decree between the city of New Orleans and the U.S. Department of Justice, fully agreed with New Orleans City Attorney Rebecca Dietz, who argued that Landry’s agents have no constitutional or statutory authority to act as law enforcement officers.
Morgan also revealed Landry’s office has refused to provide legal justification for the arrests made by his office, after more than seven months of repeated requests from the court. The Attorney General’s “representatives were unable to provide me any authority for some of these activities,” Morgan said, “I said, ‘Well, why don’t you, if you want to go back and think about this and do some more research, write me and tell me the authority that you have that supports your activities.’”“That was in January, and I have not received anything else from them to date,” she said…
In January, Landry boasted his task force had arrested eleven people, all of whom were booked on drug-related offenses. Only two were charged with additional crimes. None of the arrests involved violent crimes, and three of those arrested were charged with simple possession of marijuana. The NOPD, who have the main authority for policing the city, typically does not arrest anyone possessing less than 2.5 pounds, per a 2016 city ordinance.
The problem is that the state constitution rests state law enforcement power solely on the state police, not to any task forces created out of the AG’s office. Rather than try to make the case to the judge that he had such authority, he evidently just disbanded it. Which is a good thing. But he should have known he didn’t have such power in the first place.