In a story published in February (“Street Cred”), we updated readers on the growth and expansion of powers in the state Office of the Inspector General. Due to a revamp ushered in by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the office now has the statutory authority to investigate every corner of state government, including the executive branch, and investigators can subpoena almost anyone and have access to confidential law enforcement databases.

It’s a far cry from the group of glorified auditors that started the office under former Gov. Buddy Roemer. Most notably, the story revealed how the office has even taken on some authorities that lawmakers never intended.

Even though Act 831 of the 2008 regular session clearly states that the office's new duties "shall not include arrest powers," seven IG employees, including Inspector General Stephen Street, were granted special officer commissions last year from the Louisiana State Police, which gives them full arrest powers.

In response, Street said at the time that lawmakers may want to take another look at the law and he has no intentions of allowing arrests to be made.

While no related bill has been filed yet for the ongoing regular session, there is Senate Bill 423 by Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, which “provides for reserve investigators in the Louisiana Inspector General's Office.” Basically, the proposed law would allow Street to hire and fire “former investigators and law enforcement persons as reserve investigators.” 

The gig wouldn’t be a paid position, but the state would have to reimburse “expenses incurred during the course and scope of performing their official duties.” Appointments would be for one year and could be renewed annually.

Finally, the legislation would allow each reserve investigator to “apply to the superintendent of state police for a special officer's commission” – the same commission that grants arresting powers and runs contradictory to the office’s legislative intent.

Walsworth’s bill has been referred to the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

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