Ward 2 City Council member Germaine Simpson requested he do so after the council heard complaints from three men contending African-American males allegedly being targeted by Eunice police.
Noting similar complaints had been received over the past four years, she said, “We can’t just put it under a rug.” She noted she has a family member who was stopped three times in one day by Eunice officers.
“I’ve heard large numbers of young people are being pulled over. Profiling is against the law,” she said.
Chief Ronald Dies said enforcing the law and keeping the community safe is why he was elected last November. “People complain, but we’ll continue doing it to the best of our ability,” he said in reviewing the department’s arrest record in his first six months in office.
Under ordinary circumstances, the budget is the only Police Department issue within the council’s authority.
Activist Clifton Lemelle, outlining alleged shortcomings and abuses in the city jail, claimed the department’s independence ends where alleged civil rights violations begin.
He urged Moody and the council to create a committee to investigate conditions in and operation of the jail. Otherwise, he said, his group will contact the Department of Justice and the FBI, asking them to step into the city’s affairs.
After the council meeting, Moody indicated he was uncertain whether he and/or the council could take such action under the separation of the branches.
Lemelle in his five minutes of comment talked about inmates sleeping on the floor, cold or skipped meals, inconsistent cooling, unduly shackled prisoners during lockdowns and insufficient medical treatment.
Responding, Dies said the jail has been inspected by the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Board of Health because of recent complaints and has been evaluated as one of the best in the area.
“I’m running a jail, not a Motel 6,” he said.
Dies also told activist, educator and night club owner George Fisher he is not resigning. “I’ve got three-and-a-half years to go,” he said.
Fisher, who organized a July 4 march demanding that the chief step down, told the council Dies unnecessarily sent “an army with loaded shotguns and dogs” into his Club Escalade to break up a trail ride after party.
Fisher said his club was within fire code occupancy limits and that no undue disturbance was going on when a host of officers summoned by Dies arrived there.
“I’ve got the cleanest business in town,” Fisher said, reflecting the scrutiny he acknowledges police place on it. “Not one arrest was made,” he noted.
“The council needs to do something,” he added.
Joseph “Jo Jo” Reed, a radio and television personality, said he was giving a cousin a ride home before going to work on July 6 when a squad car began following him.
When he stopped to let the cousin out, the officer, who is also black, pulled up beside him and, as Reed told it to the council, matters went downhill from there.
“For no reason, he asked for my license and registration. Then he asked for proof of insurance, which I gave him. He said the card was expired. I told him my insurance was up to date and I could get it to him.
“I tried talking to him, telling him I knew what he was up to and everybody in the community is talking about him and he had no reason to stop me. Then he took the keys, pulled the plate and asked me who did I want to tow the vehicle,” Reed said.
Reed said he elected Robbie’s Wrecker Service. A summary from that point on is things went from bad to worse and Reed, though he subsequently provided proof of insurance, wound up working his way through DMV in Lafayette before he could retrieve his tag and vehicle.
“People need to know that this is going on, and something needs to be done,” Reed told the council.
Dies reiterated to the council and the audience that Reed “couldn’t produce proof of insurance. State law says you have to have it in your vehicle.”
Louisiana Revised Statutes do required proof of current insurance be in a vehicle at all times.
They also prohibit, effective Aug. 15, 2010, impoundment of a private passenger car, pickup truck, van, recreational vehicle or motorcycle that is stopped, while being operated by a Louisiana resident, where such vehicle or operator, or both, present no imminent danger to the public and where such operator is unable to provide proof of insurance.
Under that law, which was Act 82 of the 2010 Legislature, a Louisiana resident shall be issued a notice of non-compliance, a citation or violation ticket, and allowed to proceed, assuming it is a first violation.
The officer is entitled to seize the vehicle’s license plate, with it confiscated until proof of insurance is produced.
There are several exceptions to the non-towing stipulation, none of which evidently were in play in the Reed incident.
As it turned out, the truck was properly insured by Reed’s father, John Reed, and premium payments were current.
Dies contended state records showed insurance on the vehicle had lapsed in 2009. Reed’s agent, David S. Roberie, provided John Reed a letter saying that was not so, that there had been no lapse in coverage of the truck in 2009 or otherwise.