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Small town shaken up after police officer's arrest

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INDEPENDENCE - A police officer's arrest in Tangipahoa Parish sent waves through the small town of Independence.

Laquinton Banks, 25, faces theft, malfeasance and hate crime charges after his arrest Monday. Investigators say he stole $1,600 from non-English speaking Hispanic motorists during traffic stops.

"I was stunned. I was really stunned about this. I'm speechless really," said resident James Conley. "He seemed to be a pretty decent officer, and if this would have never happened I would have never believed anything like this about him."

Banks was only with the Independence Police Department for five months before the arrest. The investigation began just before Christmas when the Independence Police Department heard of complaints through the "grape vine," according to Police Chief Frank Edwards.

"Well of course you never want to believe that, but at the same time we had an obligation to look into it," he said.

Now both law enforcement and residents in the small town hope the negative tone surrounding the arrest will fade away.

"You know I never thought that this kind of thing would happen in my community, and it's a bad reflection on the police department as well as the citizens here in this town," said Conley.

Investigators believe there may be more victims.


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