State Police didn't document erased cellphones despite warnings to track its equipment
BATON ROUGE- Despite incredulous testimony at the capitol last month where Louisiana State Police said they kept no records of which employees had cell phones, the WBRZ Investigative Unit uncovered the agency had been warned for years to keep track of their equipment.
During a special committee hearing where lawmakers were looking into the death of Ronald Greene, State Police employees testified that they did not tag cell phones or document what serial numbers of the phones were issued to state troopers. The issue came up when three top leaders at State Police had their cell phones sanitized—erased—with no backups either.
"This strikes me as really odd," Representative C. Denise Marcelle told them last month during the hearing. "Every piece of raggedy furniture I have in my office, the state asks me once a year to write down all the serial numbers. They want to know where it is because it's state property."
"My supervisor said if it's under $1,000, I don't have to keep track," Triet Le, an IT specialist at State Police, told Marcelle.
Le admitted he was the one who sanitized the phones, after Kevin Reeves, Mike Noel and Doug Cain turned them in.
Friday, the WBRZ Investigative Unit uncovered State Police had been warned for years to track their property.
"The Office of State Police for the fourth consecutive report did not ensure all property purchased was tagged and recorded," the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's 2022 annual report notes.
Typically, when there are findings by the legislative auditor, a corrective action plan must be implemented.
"I'm appalled," Marcelle said. "State Police is not above the law, and they should tag their property like any other facility. As I mentioned in the hearing, I have to tag my property. So why wouldn't State Police have to tag their property?"
With so much going on, Marcelle said it's tough for the public to have confidence in the agency.
"How do we go forward? And how do we restore trust?" Marcelle said. "I don't know how we do that when they continue to do things like not showing up for a hearing with a subpoena. Properties that they are not tagging for four years. I don't know how we get there, but we have to hold them accountable."
Marcelle said she plans to ask additional questions to state police about why they are ignoring the auditor's findings.