78°
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
7 Day Forecast
Follow our weather team on social media

State Police captain accused of breaking the law put in charge of new compliance department

1 year 9 months 7 hours ago Friday, October 14 2022 Oct 14, 2022 October 14, 2022 5:02 PM October 14, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana State Police placed a captain who was disciplined for illegally searching names for personal purposes in law enforcement databases in charge of their newly established compliance section.

Colonel Lamar Davis sent out a note to all of State Police last month telling staff to congratulate Capt. Robert Burns on his transfer. The colonel's letter said the goal of the unit is to focus on fair and impartial policing, de-escalation, and community engagement.

The announcement revealed Burns would be the commander of the new section, and he will construct his team in the coming weeks.

Burns was the focus of a WBRZ Investigative Unit story in 2017, after documents revealed he illegally searched names in law enforcement databases for non-law enforcement purposes. He was suspended for 64 hours, and a disciplinary letter said he was in violation of department policy and federal law.

State Police's investigation revealed he searched his ex-wife's name 46 times over a two-year window. He also ran her fiancé's name twice and her ex-boyfriend four times.

His disciplinary letter states that he admitted that 51 of the 52 searches were for strictly personal reasons and not related to any official investigation.

"I think the optics are terrible," tenured LSU law professor Ken Levy said.

Levy said the punishment amounted to nothing more than light discipline.

"He violated a federal statute and arguably did it dozens of times," Levy said. "This was not a one-off or two-off. It was over 50 times. That's egregious misconduct. Most of us, if we violate a federal criminal statute we don't get a slap on the wrist. You would be prosecuted and face serious punishment. So, he got away with it."

Several troopers expressed concerns about someone who was disciplined after serious accusations running the Compliance and Standards Division at State Police. They were also concerned about the example this appointment sets for the rest of the agency. None of the concerned troopers would agree to be interviewed on camera out of fear of retaliation.

"I imagine that there are many state troopers who haven't engaged in any misconduct who may have been better qualified," Levy said.

The controversy comes as State Police is still cleaning up cover-ups tied to the death of Ronald Greene in north Louisiana. A grand jury is scheduled to convene next month, three and a half years after Greene's death.

More News

Desktop News

Click to open Continuous News in a sidebar that updates in real-time.
Radar
7 Days