Homeland Security Director in Louisiana is suspended without pay after drunk driving arrest

Local News

(WGNO)

New Orleans Homeland Security director fell and hit his head, requiring stitches, while being escorted to a police unit, according to an NOPD record

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) — The New Orleans Homeland Security Director has been suspended without pay for twenty days following a drunk driving charge last week.

Collin Arnold was arrested Thursday, Jan. 7.

The city confirmed his suspension at its weekly meeting on Tuesday.

WDSU obtained more details about Arnold’s arrest in a police report.

Police were dispatched just after 12:30 a.m. to the 2700 block of Canal Street in front of the Regional Transit Authority building after a security guard reported that a vehicle has struck a parked automobile, according to the New Orleans Police Department report. It said the police dispatcher was told the driver was still asleep behind the wheel.

The police officer who responded woke Arnold by shaking his chest, the report said. Although the officer was wearing a medical mask, he could smell a “strong odor of an unknown breath” when Arnold began to speak. The front bumper of Arnold’s city-issued Ford Explorer was against a parked sedan, according to the NOPD document.

The report said the police officer asked Arnold if he worked for the city. Arnold confirmed that he was a city employee but did not provide his position when asked.

“The driver’s speech was slurred, spoke in incomplete sentences, and had droopy eyes as if he was about to fall asleep again,” the report said.

When the officer attempted to conduct a horizontal gaze test, the report said Arnold did not move his eyes left and right as instructed. The officer believed Arnold was “severely intoxicated” and handcuffed him. When he was escorting Arnold to his police unit, Arnold fell onto the street and hit his head, according to the report.

EMS was requested to the scene, and Arnold was taken to a hospital where he received stitches on his head, the report said. After being released, he was taken to the NOPD’s DWI testing center, where Arnold refused to take a breath analysis test.

Arnold was then taken to Orleans Parish Justice Center where he was booked for driving while intoxicated and careless operation of a vehicle. A representative of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office said Arnold posted bond and was released from custody.

The first appearance for Arnold at New Orleans Municipal Court was originally scheduled for Friday, Jan. 8 but his date was rescheduled for Jan. 19.

A City Hall spokesperson said Arnold will face “appropriate disciplinary action … once all the facts have been determined.”

Mayor LaToya Cantrell also issued a statement:

“My last communication with Director Arnold was (Thursday) night around 10:15 p.m., regarding potential weather challenges in our area. I am disappointed by the incident that occurred hours later and deeply relieved that no one was hurt. Collin Arnold has done a phenomenal job helping to keep this City and our people safe during an extraordinary and unprecedented series of challenges. We have a strong team at NOHSEP and I am confident they will not let this hinder the great work they continue to do.”

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