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NAACP, lawmakers want DA to review drug cases amid turmoil in BRPD narcotics division

8 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Monday, March 15 2021 Mar 15, 2021 March 15, 2021 12:01 PM March 15, 2021 in Crime
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Hundreds of cases involving drug arrests made by BRPD could be affected amid allegations of corruption within the department's narcotics division. 

The NAACP and Black Legislative Caucus said Monday they want the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office to review cases handled by BRPD's narcotics officers. In a joint statement released Monday, the groups said were "profoundly disturbed" by the accusations coming out of the department.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit reported earlier this month that BRPD was conducting an internal investigation into its narcotics department following the arrest of one of its officers. Last month, Jason Acree was charged after he allegedly took seized drugs being housed at the department and gave them to a friend. 

Another narcotics officer, Jeremiah Ardoin, was charged in December for possession of stolen things. Several high-ranking members of the narcotics department were also transferred amid the investigation earlier this month. 

Read the full statement released by the NAACP below. 

"We are outraged and profoundly disturbed that a member of the BRPD Narcotics Division asserted that the officers in that Unit routinely stopped and searched Black people without probable cause, planted drugs on innocent individuals, and stole drugs collected as evidence. Moreover, it is further alleged that supervisors have not only participated in this gross misconduct, but actively tried to cover it up and instructed the unit to specifically target urban neighborhoods. We know that much of this has already been proven true, resulting in the arrest of disgraced Sergeant Jason Acree. As a consequence of this blatant and racist systemic malfeasance, countless members of Baton Rouge’s Black and brown community are now prohibited from business and occupational licensing, housing, voting, education, and other rights, benefits, and opportunities due to highly questionable convictions on their records.

Accordingly, the NAACP is demanding a formal and thorough review of all cases brought as a result of any investigation or action by the BRPD Narcotics Division. The district attorney’s office works closely with BRPD every day, building cases together, coordinating with each other, and relying on the other to get 'wins' in the courtroom. This fact-- coupled with the continuous, historical refusal of the DA to prosecute even the most flagrant misconduct by BRPD officers-- leads to the obvious conclusion that there must be community oversight in order to guarantee transparency and accountability from all parties, and to begin to build trust between the people and police.

In an effort to ensure integrity at every level, we are formally demanding that a board be appointed consisting of staff from the DA’s office, City Parish Attorney’s Office, BRPD, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, members of the community, a representative from the metropolitan council, and representatives of the NAACP, Baton Rouge Office of the Public Defender, ACLU of Louisiana, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, and Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Only with this level of oversight will any investigation into this corrupt unit be able to be trusted. We are requesting that community members and organizations stand with us as we ask: 'Who is watching the watchmen?'

Let it be us."

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