- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

LAPLACE, La. (AP) - St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre says he wasn’t aware until Thursday that one of his top deputies in 2012 had told narcotics deputies to produce a minimum number of arrests, search warrants and informants each month.

Tregre texted the New Orleans Advocate (http://bit.ly/1k92JoL), which first reported the quotas, to say that because he never saw the document, it wasn’t official policy and therefore didn’t break a state law barring arrest quotas.

“It is the position of Sheriff Tregre that there is no indication of the creation of a ‘quota system’ in the internal memo, and no quota system was ever implemented,” the sheriff wrote. “Further, no part of the memo meets the standard of the ‘prohibition against quotas’ under Louisiana law.”

The benchmarks were set in a memo that Maj. Walter Chappel wrote to all narcotics personnel on sheriff’s office letterhead. It required each of the five deputies on the narcotics squad to produce “a minimum of six felony narcotics arrests per month (excluding drug paraphernalia),” along with two search warrants and two fresh informants per month.

The 2008 law bars police and sheriffs’ offices from setting or even suggesting arrest quotas.

Chappel’s memo was turned over to a defense attorney who subpoenaed personnel records of two narcotics detectives accused of beating a drug suspect last year in Edgard.

On Friday, District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut’s office turned over the memo and other records to several more attorneys representing various defendants in drug cases that were handled by those two deputies, Hardy Schexnayder and Travis Thomas, and a third former narcotics detective, Justin Bordelon.

Those three deputies made accusations against one another over the supposed beating of the suspect last year. An internal affairs investigator blamed the squabble on jealousy over Bordelon’s high arrest statistics.

That investigator, Capt. C.J. Destor, endorsed drug suspect Darnell Randle’s story that Schexnayder and Thomas pummeled him during a home search and lied about Bordelon’s role. A jury ruled otherwise this week, clearing the two deputies of wrongdoing in a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Tregre, who won re-election last month, acknowledged that Chappel wrote the memo, but he said Friday that he has taken no disciplinary action in the matter.

Tulane law professor Pam Metzger derided the Sheriff’s Office’s statement as a bizarre dismissal of the obvious.

“It is preposterous to suggest that the memorandum does anything other than establish an illegal quota,” Metzger said. “If Sheriff Tregre cannot see that the memorandum establishes a quota, then he lacks even a grade-school level acquaintance with basic math and English. If Sheriff Tregre needed The Advocate to tell him that this memorandum exists, he lacks even the most rudimentary set of leadership and management skills.”

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Information from: The New Orleans Advocate, http://www.neworleansadvocate.com

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