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'I don't apologize for my passion': BRPD chief rallies with city-parish leaders amid council meeting controversy

8 months 3 weeks 2 days ago Monday, October 02 2023 Oct 2, 2023 October 02, 2023 1:37 PM October 02, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul told supporters Monday that he stands by the fiery comments he made at a council meeting last week, though he admits that his emotions got the better of him. 

The mayor and a handful of city-parish councilmembers rallied outside Baton Rouge Police headquarters on Monday in support of the embattled BRPD chief. Mayor Pro Tempore LaMont Cole, Councilman Cleve Dunn, Jr. Councilwoman Carolyn Coleman, Councilwoman Chauna Blanks, and Councilman Darryl Hurst were among those in attendance. 

"I want to thank all of the clergy members and community members who have come out in support of one of the best chiefs in the United States of America," Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said. "I unequivocally say that one of my best hires was Chief Murphy Paul."

The police chief was visibly emotional as he addressed the crowd of supporters.

"I'm humbled because y'all don't know how I beat myself up for losing my cool," Chief Paul said. "I wish I could have just said it a different way. But when I begin to feel the love, the support, the prayers... and it really made me realize with all of the progress that we've made, how much more work we have to do."

"No matter what I said — and let me be clear everything I said in there was facts — there's still some who only see an angry Black man" the chief added. "I don't apologize for my passion."

It comes less than a week after Chief Paul's outburst at a metro council meeting, during which he called out multiple councilmembers who he accused of stripping funding from the department. While some sympathized with the chief's rant, other councilmembers took offense and have called for him to resign over what they say was a lack of decorum. 

Warning: The video contains potentially offensive language.

"I'm trying to bring light to the fact that there are people that had their rights violated. We kept bad actors on the police force, and I'm being attacked for questioning as to how and why these people stayed on for so long," Councilwoman Jen Racca told WBRZ last week.

Paul responded to the backlash days later, doubling down on what he said at the meeting. 

"I do not apologize for standing up for what is right. Although my passion may have offended some, that is not my intention," Paul said during a news conference Friday.

Since some councilmembers have called for Paul to resign, Mayor Broome has pointed out that the chief has been planning to step down for months. The city is currently deep into a search for its next police chief, with Paul set to exit Nov. 3, 2023. 

Paul's impassioned speech came as the council was questioning city leaders over the "Brave Cave," a makeshift interrogation site at the center of a federal civil rights investigation. Multiple people have alleged that they were beaten and unlawfully strip-searched inside the facility while cameras were off.

The investigation led to BRPD disbanding its Street Crimes unit, an arm of the department previously tasked with policing the most violent corners of the city. Last week, the department filed arrest warrants for four of its own officers with ties to the unit, including Deputy Chief Troy Lawrence Sr. 

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