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The Police Jury is the legislative and executive government of the parish, and is elected by the voters. Its members are called Jurors, and together they elect a President as their chairman. The President presides over the Police Jury and serves as the titular head of the parish government. The Police Jury is akin to the commissions or councils that govern counties in most other states.
Police juries range in size, depending on the population of the parish, from three to fifteen. Many parishes are quite rural and therefore have small police juries. Wide latitude is given to organize and administer the police jury's business.
Origins of the Police Jury
When the United States first organized present-day Louisiana as the Territory of Orleans in 1804, the territory was divided into 12 counties. This system proved unsatisfactory, and by 1807, the territory reorganized its civil government roughly according to Catholic parishes in the region.
Each parish had a parish judge and a justice of the peace, both appointed. Voters also elected a police jury, which was responsible for law and order and other administration. The office of sheriff was added in 1810. Louisiana was admitted to the Union in 1812, and kept the parish system. Later on, parishes were divided into wards. The last vestiges of the territorial county system were removed in 1845.
The parish system continued to evolve until the Louisiana Constitution of 1975, which established the modern local government system as Louisianans know it today.
Parishes using the Police Jury system
Other forms of parish government
Twenty-three Louisiana parishes are governed by home rule charters that allow them to pick a different form of government. These include: council-president, council-manager, and consolidated parish/city.
Under this system, voters typically elect an executive President and a legislative Council separately.
In this system, the voters elect a Parish Council, which hires a professional manager to run the day-to-day government.
In this system, the parish government has been consolidated with the local city government. Voters typically elect a City Council and a Mayor.