EBR Sheriff: Department policies reviewed, changes being made for law enforcement accountability
BATON ROUGE – The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office outlined its policies Tuesday amid a nationwide wave of calls for stricter policies related to agencies’ diversity and use of force.
Public outcry came after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
In Baton Rouge, the police department held a news conference Tuesday about its ongoing reforms.
The sheriff joined the conversation, echoing an earlier statement chastising the officers involved in Floyd’s death.
“...If you do not have a heart for service, there is no place for you in law enforcement,” Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said in a statement.
Gautreaux also explained changes within the department, including making policies clear neck restraints and choke-holds are banned – deputies are trained against using them, the sheriff said, and language in the department code will reinforce lessons.
The sheriff’s office said deputies are trained in de-escalation and some are specially trained in counseling, negotiations and other means to avoid a more forceful maneuver.
A third-party review is also underway of department policies and procedures, the sheriff said.
The sheriff said the agency is diverse, and it is working to add more diversity and inclusion – from hiring to policing: “Over the years we have updated and revised our policies to prohibit discrimination of any kind and will continue to do so. These policies not only relate to inter-agency conduct, but also to community interactions. Targeting, stopping or detaining someone due to their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation is forbidden,” the sheriff said in a statement.
The sheriff also discussed recent, mostly peaceful protests calling for police accountability in Baton Rouge: “I want to thank those in our community that have peacefully protested. I respect and appreciate your right to be heard. I personally value your voice and your input. As leaders we must humbly listen,” the sheriff said, adding that the community must “learn and grow.”
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