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Arresting Development

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SHOULD MURDER VICTIMS' ARREST RECORDS BE RELEASED?

  The New Orleans Police Department's (NOPD) practice of publishing murder victims' arrest records in press releases came under fire again last week during the City Council's Criminal Justice Committee meeting. City Councilwomen Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Susan Guidry asked NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas to stop the practice, characterizing it as cruel to victims' families and an impediment to fostering trust between the department and the community. They also questioned why the NOPD releases arrest rather than conviction records.

  "It's a practice I have a problem with," Hedge-Morrell said. "I would strongly encourage you to stop."

  Serpas said the information was valuable to criminal justice professionals and the community in painting a complete picture of the cause and nature of serious crime. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice found that more than 60 percent of homicide victims had arrest records. "Then I think we ought to put a report on the aggregate data and not do it every time someone is shot," Hedge-Morrell told him. — Charles Maldonado

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