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Council to talk about electing chief, nearly 30 cities already do

4 years 2 months 1 week ago February 12, 2013 Feb 12, 2013 Tuesday, February 12 2013 February 12, 2013 9:29 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Trey Schmaltz

BATON ROUGE- City leaders will discuss the possibility of letting voters in the city of Baton Rouge elect the police chief.

"It is something that I want to discuss," Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle said. Marcelle added the discussion to Wednesday's Metro Council agenda.

The Mayor's firing of Dewayne White, the police chief of nearly two years last week, prompted the discussion. Council members who were not happy White was fired suggest if the chief is elected, the person in charge of the department will be immune to the politics connected with the mayor's office.

White blames the police union for pushing Mayor Kip Holden to fire him because he made personnel changes inside the department. Union representatives did not welcome those changes.

Holden refused to comment on the matter, and said it was a personnel issue. The union released a statement chastising the chief and supporting the decision to fire White.

The union said White's tenure as chief resulted in "the most tumultuous era ever within the Baton Rouge Police Department."

At the meeting, set for Wednesday afternoon, council members will talk about if the position should be appointed by the mayor or elected by voters.

Collins said she wants to gauge what other members of the council think, and if talks should go further. The council would have to approve electing the chief, and then voters would have to approve changing the position.

According to research done by WBRZ News 2, nearly thirty area municipalities elect the chief of police. Including Baker, Central, Zachary, Ponchatoula, Port Allen, Brusly, and Gonzales.

Collins said Wednesday's meeting is open to the public, and she wants people to attend. Council meetings are at 4 o'clock at the government office building downtown.

White plans to meet with the Mayor over his firing at a meeting on February 18th.


Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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