Law enforcement agencies in Louisiana are failing in a majority of cases to report why officers leave their employment, as the law requires.
Law enforcement agencies in Louisiana are failing in a majority of cases to report why officers leave their employment, as the law requires, according to findings from a new police accountability database created by Innocence Project New Orleans.
A 2017 state law requires agencies to report to the Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, when officers quit or are fired and provide a reason why. That could include termination, resignation in lieu of termination or resignation pending the outcome of a misconduct investigation. The law also requires law enforcement agencies to obtain the information from POST before hiring officers who have left other departments.
Of the 148 officers who have changed employment status since 2018—a number that doesn’t include those who retired—law enforcement agencies failed to report a reason in 51% of the cases, according to the database. At least 14 officers who did not report a reason for leaving were rehired by another agency.
Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, who sponsored the 2017 legislation as a member of the state House of Representatives, did not respond to requests for comment on why she felt the information was important to report. But Ben Grunwald, a professor at the Duke University School of Law, co-authored a 2020 report on so-called “wandering officers,” those who are fired from one department for possible misconduct claims and then rehired by another. Laws like Louisiana’s can help prevent these problem officers from escaping accountability, he said in an interview.
“There’s just very little information for the public to understand the internal workings of police departments,” Grunwald says. “At the very least, having information about who gets fired seems helpful, especially when an officer moves on and gets hired in another agency.”
IPNO discovered the problem while compiling public records for the recently unveiled Louisiana Law Enforcement Accountability Database, a publicly available clearinghouse for records on law enforcement officers across the state. The online database, the first of its kind in Louisiana, includes misconduct claims, citizen complaints, disciplinary proceedings and use of force reports. Read the full story from Verite.