As one of the nation’s premier festivals celebrating African-American culture got under way Friday, the commander of an elite New Orleans police unit instructed his officers to target young black men for questioning, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.
Police Commander Eddie Selby, the head of the NOPD’s Special Operations Division, was reassigned and placed under internal investigation Monday for allegedly giving his officers “inappropriate instructions” before they embarked on downtown patrols.
Selby made the comments to a diverse group of more than 30 people, including patrol officers and ranking supervisors, at a roll call meeting before sending them off to their assignments, the sources said. He told his officers to look for young black males sitting on stoops because they are responsible for recent armed robberies and are likely carrying guns, the sources said.
Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Tuesday that there is “no evidence” that Selby’s comments led to improper arrests.
The NOPD has been accused of racial profiling before. In March, a scathing U.S. Department of Justice report questioned whether the NOPD’s arrest practices were discriminatory. The federal probe, part of a civil litigation review that will lead to an eventual consent decree, found that African-American residents are arrested in disproportionate numbers and that the disparity occurs with serious crimes–ranging from homicide to larceny–as well as less-serious offenses.