NOPD Announces ‘Scarlet Letter’ Campaign to Promote Crimestoppers

By Carlton Purvis

The New Orleans Police Department announced a new initiative on Tuesday to gain the public’s trust and show that they are following up on tips provided through the Crimestoppers Inc. tip line.

New Orleans police chief Ronal Serpas announced that it would began placing large orange placards on houses that have been investigated for drug activity based on tips provided to Crimestoppers. Serpas said every house where a warrant was served would be placarded.

Crimestoppers says the organization receives roughly 7,000 tips per year and that the number of viable tips related to NOPD cases was up 11 percent.

“The public often isn't aware of when and how officers follow up on drug-related tips, because the investigations are done in a clandestine manner. The stickers are meant to assure residents that their calls did not go unnoticed,” the Times-Picayune quoted Serpas.

The large orange, hexagonal placards read, “N.O.P.D. has served a narcotic related warrant or checked this residence, as a result of a CRIMESTOPPERS HOT LINE CITIZENS TIP,” and provide a number to report suspicious activity.

A NOPD spokesperson says the sticker can be removed any time by anyone -- which leads the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana to ask “What’s the point?”

People who haven't been arrested or charged would be singled out, said executive director Marjorie Esman. "This is like a scarlet letter tattooed onto the homes of otherwise innocent people, giving them no presumption of innocence,” Esman told the Times. "If anyone can take it off at any time, then what's the point? Why taxpayers’ money should be spent on something that can just be peeled off right away.”

The Times reports that Serpas implemented a similar program in Nashville when he was chief there. There, the stickers are much larger— two feet long—and bright neon green. The stickers in Nashville, however, are only placed on homes where a successful narcotics warrant was executed.

photo by nola.agent/flickr


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