Citizen wants police review board
BATON ROUGE - Mounting allegations against the police department has some urging the city to create a review board to watch over officers.
"I think it's time we start holding officers accountable," an area college professor, Paul Guidry, said.
He and Metro Council members C. Denise Marcelle and Ronnie Edwards are pushing for a citizens' review board.
The group is concerned about recent issues involving the Baton Rouge Police Department, including the indictment of three BRPD officers for malfeasance and a WBRZ News 2 Investigative Unit exclusive report about a citizen's phone records. Officers told a man they could charge him with criminal defamation, a charge that has been ruled unconstitutional several times, after he included a picture of an officer posing with another officer with their eyes closed in an emailed complaint to the mayor's office.
"We're going down a path that could be very dangerous to the civil liberties of us as individuals," Guidry said.
"I would love to see us get to a point where we don't have this kind of foolishness on the job," Edwards said.
Edwards is upset over lawsuit settlement's the city has paid out involving police. Last month, the city settled a case for $35,000 after a woman sued over what she called a witch hunt involving fired police chief Dewayne White and phone records.
"We've had a huge number of settlements, large dollar settlements, in cases where there has been some failure on the part of law enforcement," Edwards said. "There are a lot of things that need to be put into place to make sure that we minimize that kind of activity."
Councilman John Delgado believes a review board is pointless.
"Creating another oversight board is a pointless endeavor. It may get some time on your TV news but it's really not going to make your department any better," Delgado said.
He believes the department was with the scope of the law when officers seized the citizen's personal information in the case involving the picture and complaint.
"I think that the procedures that they followed may have been improper, but I don't think it's so egregious for us to talk about it for hours on end," he said.
Delgado said, at first, he was advised the search warrant was not executed, but after reading the search warrant, he determined it had been.
"Based on the records that I have seen today, the search warrant was in fact executed but not against the complaining witness. It was sent to AT&T to gather the man's name and address so [police] could contact him," Delgado said.
Delgado would not disclose who initially told him the search warrant was not executed.
Chief Carl Dabadie did not want to talk about the search warrant but did want to talk about the indictments.
"These things will always come up and there are always be bad apples in the group. My job as an administrator is to find those bad apples and serve them with discipline in whatever law they may break," Dabadie said.
The mayor refused to comment.