‘We’re trying to prioritize our people’| Sheriff Hutson reflects on year 1 in office while defending millage increase
April 20, 2023
NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— May 2 will mark one year since Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson took office and Thursday, she reflected on her first year.
“In the first week, we had an officer-involved shooting. We had a fake escape, some overdoses, and a number of things just go down. The next month we had two deaths, and we move from there we had unrest going on. So just everything that you can have gone wrong we handled, and in that same process, assessed what was going wrong in the organization,” said Hutson.
When asked whether she has been able to implement changes to the office she campaigned on, the sheriff replied, “We talked about reform, I am progressive and progressive means humanity first. We put people first not systems, and that’s what we’re trying to prioritize our people, and our residents, and our community.”
To that end, Hutson is asking voters to double the millage the department receives by an additional 12 million dollars to address needs she says are critical.
The largest portion is dedicated to staffing.
Hutson says they are roughly down about 300 deputies, and that not only do they need to hire but they need to retain them, and the pay plan and benefits are essential to that. The Bureau of Government Research opposes Sheriff Hutson’s attempt to double the millage that her officers receive.
WGNO took a walk through the facility where Hutson pointed out what needed funding, starting with what she called an antiquated jail management computer system.
“This is what it looked like when I was learning in the ’80s about computers this is what it looked like,” said Sheriff Hutson.
The sheriff contends that upgrades are also needed for safety and security.
“The deficiency with the sliding doors is it’s a lack of security for the facility because it’s easy for our residents to prop miscellaneous items either in the sliding rack at the top or at the back lip of the door,” Sgt. Ian Johnson, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Groups in opposition to the millage increase, site a lack of transparency in the agency and its plans for the funding, but Hutson pushed back on that notion.
“We have been more transparent than any other sheriff’s office you’re going to find in this state. I believe in public records, we are being transparent but I’m not being asked about the work and I think that’s one of the things I’m most shocked about,” Susan Hutson, Orleans Parish Sheriff.
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