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Baton Rouge Police to hold Tuesday news conference to discuss ongoing dept. reforms

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BATON ROUGE - Baton Rouge Police will hold a news conference Tuesday to discuss reforms within the department amid a nationwide call for police policy reviews.

Police Chief Murphy Paul will talk about "building trust and legitimacy with the Baton Rouge Police Department," the agency said in a scheduling note about the upcoming news conference.

The news conference is scheduled for Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.  WBRZ will televise the news conference on WBRZ Plus.  Click HERE to watch WBRZ Plus live online, streaming apps or on cable and antenna TV.  Click HERE for channel listings. 

The news conference comes after protests in Louisiana and across the world after George Floyd was killed May when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped responding. His death has inspired international protests and drawn new attention to the treatment of African Americans by police and the criminal justice system.

Protests held in Baton Rouge have largely been peaceful and solicited conversations about protesters, law enforcement and city officials.  Last week, rally organizers met with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

"It was a very insightful and meaningful conversation that we had," Broome said after the meeting last Tuesday.

Peaceful protests have centered on Siegen Lane, downtown Baton Rouge and the suburbs.  

"They have a genuine concern that you see among many of the peaceful protesters," the mayor added. "And that is certainly the hunger and thirst for justice and also wanting to make sure that we are doing everything that we can to close the gap between law enforcement and the citizens of this community."

Baton Rouge has already been forced to confront conversations about police reforms.

In the wake of the 2016 killing of Alton Sterling here, chaotic moments unfolded amid demands for reforms.  

“From deescalating policies, no chokehold policies, also mandatory intervention policies, where officers that are at a scene and they may see an officer that may potentially be overreacting to a situation, for that officer to be mandated to step in and stop that officer from going too far,” retired BRPD Deputy Chief Jonny Dunnam said.

Dunnam had served with the police department since 1989, temporarily holding the interim police chief position for around half a year until Chief Murphy Paul was hired in 2018.

“Police departments have to constantly evolve. If you don’t evolve and you don’t have your ear to the public, then you’re going to die as a police department. Obviously, you see that with Minneapolis. You have to be constantly evolving and changing your tactics, listening to the public,” Dunnam said.

In 2020, the mayor agrees protests thus far have been a far cry from those of four years ago. 

"I certainly think that the response from the police has changed since 2016. We've had in the Baton Rouge Police Department a number of trainings that have taken place."

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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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