Perspectives on the Law: Oestreicher’s Service at NOPD

David Oestreicher was comfortable and well suited in law school at Tulane. He also fit right in while working toward his Master of Laws degree at Harvard, but familiarity breeds complacency, and complacency can cause the mind to atrophy. Students of the law, more so, practicing attorneys need to keep sharp. They need perspective to perform to the best of their mental abilities.

oestreicher-nopd-lawyer-turns-cop-photoOestreicher considered this philosophy when he made his decision to join the New Orleans Police Department’s reserve force.

He says he became a cop for the challenge, but also to give something back to the city he’s made home.

As a lawyer, he’s represented a number of clients in criminal and civil cases. He once won a civil judgement for a man wrongfully charged and jailed on murder charges, and he won a wrongful death lawsuit against a jailer in a rural parish for failing to protect a prisoner with known suicidal tendencies (the inmate hanged himself). On the other side of the spectrum, Oestreicher once represented several African-American sergeants who had been passed over for promotion.

By the time Oestreicher joined the NOPD reserve force, he had seen it all from the perspective of a legal professional. But, he thought that by joining the force he would gain a unique perspective on his legal work, and says, “the legal training we went through at the police academy was as challenging as any law course I went through at Harvard.”

Only 17 in his academy class of 35 finished.

Most of his colleagues in the civil rights field greeted Oestreicher’s decision with disbelief. Many of his friends didn’t know what to make of it. But, those who knew him well, knew this was just another way for him to continue learning, to gain an edge, to sharpen his mind and his acumen.

During his time with NOPD, Oestreicher captured a purse snatcher, rushed a wounded woman to the hospital after a double shooting, helped mental patients get medical care, returned a lost girl from Georgia reunite with her parents during a Mardi Gras parade, and patrolled the streets during Hurricane Andrew.

He says it did give him a better perspective on his legal work, a perspective he calls on to this day when defending the rights of clients in our legal system.

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