U.S. Attorney Polite to Step Down on March 24th
Kenneth A. Polite, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has announced that he has submitted his resignation to President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, effective on March 24, 2017.
Polite stated, “I have enjoyed this great opportunity to serve as U.S. Attorney here in Southeast Louisiana. More importantly, it has been the highest honor to lead this Office’s outstanding employees who are committed to the ideals of collegiality, diligence, and professionalism. I am confident that these public servants will continue to ensure that justice reaches out to all residents of this region. Regardless of my title or position, I will always work to improve the lives of our region’s residents, especially our young people.”
Polite, age 41, began his tenure in September 2013, during one of the most difficult periods in the Office’s history. He will depart after having focused on improving the Office’s prosecutorial efficiency and transparency, strengthening its regional collaboration with both law enforcement and the residents they serve, and fostering greater community interest in both prevention and reentry as necessary tools for improving public safety.
Polite realigned the Office’s personnel to better reflect its prosecutorial priorities. In addition to increasing the number of prosecutors handling violent crime matters, Polite established the Office’s first dedicated Public Integrity Unit, responsible for investigating public corruption and civil rights violations. He also strengthened the Office’s National Security Unit, adding six AUSAs to address terrorism, immigration, and environmental matters. Over the past 3.5 years, the Office’s enforcement efforts resulted in, among other matters, convictions of:
several multi-defendant gang organizations responsible for terrorizing the region through drug trafficking, gun violence, and homicides;
several high-profile political corruption defendants, including the former Mayor of New Orleans and the former District Attorneys of St. Tammany and St. Charles Parishes;
various former law enforcement officers responsible for criminal violations of civil rights;
numerous child pornographers throughout the country, particularly as part of Operation Roundtable;
clinics, physicians, and medical staff, as part of multi-million-dollar health care fraud schemes;
individual and corporate polluters of the region’s waterways; and
more human traffickers than in any prior U.S. Attorney’s tenure in the Office’s history, including the country’s first conviction of a motel operator for benefitting from sex trafficking.
Polite also emphasized transparency of the Office’s work. The Office now issues a press release at the charging, conviction, and sentencing phases of every criminal matter. Internally, Polite issued a weekly office report, advising his staff of the tremendous criminal, civil, outreach, and administrative work being done across the Office. In collaboration with the U.S. Probation Office, the Federal Defenders’ Office, and the federal judiciary, the Office also began sharing Pretrial Risk Assessment scores with all parties – defendants, counsel, prosecutors, and judges – in a criminal matter, resulting in a significant decrease in unnecessary pretrial detention.
From the outset of his tenure, Polite focused on reestablishing the Office’s regional presence. Polite regularly traveled throughout all 13 parishes, seeking to improve working relationships and communication with community leaders, educators, students, and law enforcement. Local, state, and federal law enforcement officials from across the region regularly attended training sessions and conferences hosted by the Office.
Under Polite’s leadership, the Office brought to the region two well-known initiatives – the Student Pledge Against Gun Violence and Project LEAD – as means of empowering young people to help reduce violence. Through these programs the Office and its employees engaged with thousands of young people each year. Polite also established the Crescent City Keepers, a ground-breaking organizational mentoring initiative focusing on youth most at risk of becoming homicide victims.
The successful reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals was a notable priority for Polite. In partnership with the New Orleans Business Council, the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, and numerous local businesses, he created the 30-2-2 Reentry Collaborative, a workforce pipeline for ex-offenders returning to the Southeast Louisiana community. The initiative now offers valuable support for state and federal reentry courts and their participants. In collaboration with the U.S. Probation Office, the Federal Defenders’ Office, and the federal judiciary, the Office developed the LEAP program, where low-level offenders with verified substance addictions receive treatment, counseling, educational resources, and employment training, rather than long-term incarceration. Polite also regularly visited many of the state and federal prison facilities in Louisiana, addressing incarcerated individuals about the potential resources available to assist in their successful return to their communities.
In April 2015, then-Attorney General Lynch appointed Polite to serve on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee ("AGAC"). The AGAC serves as the voice of the 93 U.S. Attorneys across the nation and provides advice and counsel to the Attorney General and other senior leaders in the U.S. Department of Justice on policy, management, and operational issues. In addition, Polite served as a member of the AGAC Subcommittees on Violent and Organized Crime, White Collar Crime, and Civil Rights, as well as the Smart on Crime Working Group.
Polite has received numerous awards for his leadership as U.S. Attorney, including the Leadership in the Law award from New Orleans City Business, the Goldman Criminal Justice Reform award from Court Watch NOLA, and the Community Light in Mentorship award from Each One, Save One. Loyola University Law School awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Laws, and De La Salle High School, where Polite graduated as valedictorian, endowed a scholarship in his name to honor a graduating senior who has excelled in scholarship and leadership.
Polite has become a nationally-recognized public speaker, offering his powerful personal story and voice on issues such as civic empowerment, community trust, and criminal justice reform. He has addressed audiences at Stanford, Yale, Columbia and New York University law schools, countless civic organizations, and most importantly, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate schools across Louisiana.
Polite and his family will continue to reside in New Orleans. Details regarding his future endeavors, in both the public and private sectors, are forthcoming.