Five of the Twenty-Five CCC Police Officers Have Criminal Records

Report shows officers with criminal records, wasted money and resources; recommends state police oversight

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Comment by truth on January 30, 2011 at 7:31am
State police review of CCC police reveals startling problems
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by Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on January 20, 2011 at 8:08 AM

NEW ORLEANS- More issues surfaced Wednesday for the Crescent City Connection.

In September, a state audit revealed misspent funds and toll collection problems.

Now, the CCC's police department is under scrutiny. A state police review of the CCC police department, released to the state Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday, revealed some startling problems.

According to the review, the issues include "weak and inadequate" background checks. In fact, it found five of the 25 officers employed by the CCC police force have criminal records. And, according to the report, one officer was arrested for felony theft while on the police force, with no apparent disciplinary action.

On top of that, the report found that two officers were driving with an expired license.

"That's unconscionable," said Rep. Patrick Connick, R- Marrero. "And the question is, 'Why was this allowed to happen?' And the reason was, nobody was looking into it, nobody cared."

According to the review, another issue was that 20 brand new laptop computers sat in storage for over two years.

"It's a waste of our toll money," said Connick, who believes state police should take complete control of the CCC police department.

Among the review's 37 recommendations for improving the CCC police department is giving state police, rather than DOTD, the authority to commission officers, or make sure they're qualified.

"I think it would be a very good thing for state police to commission the CCC," said Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, who spearheaded the effort for state police to review the CCC police department.

"We have to have an open, transparent, honest debate. What do we have? And by having that information, it allows us to make better decisions going forward," said Heitmeier.

Heitmeier said the CCC is the fifth busiest bridge in the country. With 160,000 vehicles crossing the bridge daily, the review also finds it's important that it have police presence.

"I think the most important thing out of that report is the fact that someone needs to be on top of that bridge," said Col. Michael Edmonson, head of Louisiana's state police.

With the announcement of a new CCC police chief Wednesday comes a DOTD promise that Chief Peter Meggiore, who had previously served as deputy chief, will be committed to making sure state police recommendations become realities.

In a statement, a DOTD spokeswoman said "The DOTD... stands committed to implementing all of the recommendations, within reason, based on the financial resources and long-term need pending the termination of tolls in 2012."

The CCC police force is funded by tolls, and there are questions about what will happen when those tolls expire in 2012.

DOTD officials said Meggiore's first priority will be to kick off an action plan based on the study's recommendations.

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