Is NOPD’s Practice of Revealing Slain Victims’ Rap Sheets Racist?

Posted on Jan 30, 2012 in Courts, Local Issues, NOPD

Harry “Mike” Ainsworth was walking his two sons to the bus stop when he heard a woman scream. He ran to the scene to discover she was being carjacked – and intervened. The woman escaped physically unharmed, while Mike Ainsworth was shot to death by the carjacker.

When police released details of Ainsworth’s murder, they also announced he had been arrested for drug possession and other non-violent crimes in the past, keeping with a year-old policy in which the criminal records of murdered victims are available to the public.

NOPD says this practice gives the public a more complete picture of the incident and shows that many victims of violent crimes are themselves convicted criminals. Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said publicizing arrest records gives a better picture of the killing, which authorities said usually involves young men who are killing people with similar backgrounds.

Serpas estimated 62 percent of those killed in 2011 had prior felony arrests.

Families of the dead victims say the practice is insensitive at a time when they are trying to cope with the loss of a loved one. Others are outraged with the policy, saying that it carries racial overtones – that African Americans and other minorities are predominantly violent criminals – and implies that the victims got what they deserved.

This is obviously a contentious issue – what do you think? Is NOPD just trying to better-inform the public or are they unfairly profiling victims? Comment below or reply to @BloomLegal on Twitter.

If you or anyone you know has been arrested and charged with a violentcrime, call Bloom Legal at 504-599-9997 for immediate help and a case evaluation.

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