Bad cops stay on the beat

Bad cops stay on the beat

More than 200 Louisiana law enforcement officers were fired over the past decade for serious crimes or other misconduct. But the vast majority were allowed to keep their certifications, which meant they could continue to work as police officers. That’s because of Louiana’s low rate of permanently revoking credentials, a process known as decertification. While Georgia decertifies about 800 officers per year, Louisiana has averaged approximately one a year for the past half century. The Advocate’s Joseph Cranney has a blockbuster report on Louisiana’s historic lenience with bad officers.  

At least 134 law enforcement officers were convicted of crimes including murder, sexual assault or indecency, dishonesty, domestic violence or harassment, theft, excessive force and other on-the-job malfeasance in the last decade. The vast majority were convicted of felonies, which requires decertification under the law. But only around a third have lost their accreditation. Another 328 officers in the last decade were fired for cause or resigned under investigation. Records show more than a quarter of those cases involved violence, dishonesty, sexual misconduct or malfeasance. But because they didn’t involve felony cases, not one has been decertified.


Open records for thee, but not for me 
State Rep. Debbie Villio’s House Bill 321 would make confidential juvenile court records a part of the public records – but only for three parishes. That’s because the pilot program included in the legislation would only focus on the state’s three largest parishes – East Baton Rouge, Orleans and Caddo – all of which are majority Black. While many lawmakers are taking a tough-on-crime stance during an election year, an Advocate editorial describes Villio’s bill as a political stunt that violates equality before the law: 

Limiting the proposal to majority Black cities plays to stereotypes, and publicizing these records goes against everything we know about how to steer troubled youths toward a better path. “You have a (teenager) whose brain is not fully developed and who has made a mistake. And 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now, they still aren’t able to put that behind them,” said Kristen Rome, co-executive director of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. “Those records are going to always be available for everyone to see … and that creates a stigma, which creates an environment where they can’t thrive.”


Medical debt relief faces hurdles in New Orleans
Two major regional hospitals remain key hurdles to a plan that would forgive as much as $130 million in medical debt in New Orleans. Last year, the Crescent City announced a plan to partner with New York-based nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to erase medical debt for city residents. But as Verite’s Michael Isaac Stein explains, the debt-forgiveness program is impossible without signoff from Ochsner Health and LCMC Health. 

“Without them, none of this works,” [RIP Medical Debt CEO Allison ] Sesso said. “We gotta make sure the hospitals get on board here. Ochsner and LCMC, the two big players.” Ochsner declined to comment for this story. LCMC did not respond by the time this story was published. … Asked how negotiations with the hospitals are going so far, Sesso was noncommittal. “I just hope that they’ll come to the table, that’s all I can say,” she said. “I honestly don’t think we’ve had enough engagement with them. And I don’t think that’s our fault. … We’ve reached out to them but we haven’t received a, ‘We’re going to go ahead and move forward with this’ from them yet.”


Another attempt to protect tax cheats
Included in the GOP’s demands for raising the nation’s debt ceiling and not throwing America’s economy into financial chaos was another effort to defund the IRS. House Republicans want to claw back $80 billion the agency is slated to receive over the next decade to update outdated technology and help ensure that the ultra-wealthy comply with our tax laws. The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell lays out how the increased funding is currently helping the agency:

This week, the IRS announced it had finally cleared the backlog of millions of unprocessed returns accumulated over the previous several years. How did it do this? The agency finally purchased technology to scan paper returns into the computer system instead of having employees manually keystroke in tax data digit by digit. The agency was also able to answer literally millions more phone calls this year than it did last year, and cut down its obscenely long waiting times on calls (to four minutes, down from 27). Such triumphs were, again, the result of finally getting more resources: the agency recently hired 5,000 new taxpayer service agents.

Republicans falsely claim that the cuts are needed to protect middle-class families from government harassment. 

In reality, agency upgrades and investments would help law-abiding taxpayers — not only through improved customer service but also by collecting more of the revenue already legally owed by high tax cheats. That way the rest of us don’t have to chip in more tax dollars to offset their shirking. Additionally, more sophisticated auditing technologies (e.g., digitizing more categories of returns), make it more likely that any audits conducted will be better-targeted — and less likely to draw honest people into the dragnet. …  And yet their plans to incapacitate the IRS would worsen the government’s long-term deficit problems. That’s because the IRS brings in much more revenue than it spends.


Number of the Day
1 – Louisiana’s national rank for combined state and local sales tax rate, which sits at 9.55%. Louisiana’s high sales taxes eat up a disproportionate share of household income for low-income people, who must spend more of their take-home pay on immediate needs than their wealthier neighbors. (Tax Foundation via the Daily Advertiser)