Acting on complaints from New Orleans residents, today the ACLU of Louisiana sent a request to Superintendent Ronal Serpas seeking records from the New Orleans Police Department on its practice of demanding identification from people who have done nothing wrong. ACLU sources suggest that NOPD officers have been stopping people who are walking, biking or driving, asking them to identify themselves, recording information from their I.D. cards, and allowing the person to continue on his or her way.
Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said: "In a free country, nobody should have to account to police for being out in public. This practice not only violates the rights of law-abiding people, it is also a waste of police resources, which should be spent fighting crime. We can't afford to stop people who are minding their own business. The police have more important things to do."
In its letter, the ACLU requested all documents that show a NOPD practice of stopping individuals and asking them to identify themselves; what information is gathered from individuals stopped by NOPD officers and what happens to that information; and the information obtained by NOPD officers pursuant to stops of individuals.
"We urge anyone who has been asked by NOPD officers to produce identification, without giving the police any reason to suspect criminal behavior, to file a complaint with the ACLU," said Esman. "We know this is happening, and the more information we gather, the better we can protect everyone's rights."
Under the law, the NOPD has until October 12 to respond to the ACLU's letter.
Complaints should be filed on the ACLU website, here.
A copy of the ACLU's letter may be found here.