BRPD building on policies already in place amid nationwide calls for police reform
BATON ROUGE - In the wake of protests in the Capital City over the killing of George Floyd, Baton Rouge Police have already changed some policies and are still working to improve.
BRPD implemented several procedural changes after a police officer shot and killed Alton Sterling in 2016. Chief Murphy Paul, who worked at state police when Sterling was killed, says those changes have reduced reports of police misconduct and excessive use of force, but it’s only the start.
Paul started Tuesday’s press conference by thanking the young organizers who have been putting together peaceful protests in Baton Rouge.
“Thank you. Thank you for being responsible citizens and thank you for making your anger, frustration, and your hurt known in a constructive way,” Paul said.
It’s those protests that led Paul and other high-ranking officers to publicly discuss ongoing reforms within the department amid the national outcry against police brutality.
“The internal affairs division used to take a reactive approach to complaints. We used to wait until we actually received a complaint before we initiated an investigation. Now, we’re taking a proactive approach. Now when the department learns of possible misconduct, such a something circulating on social media, internal affairs division initiates an investigation, even though a complaint has not been filed,” Sgt. Jacques Angelloz, head of BRPD’s internal affairs division, said.
Policy changes that were made within the department in 2017 include the banning of chokeholds, adding de-escalation training to avoid violence, and stricter officer accountability. Angelloz explains that requires officers to step in if they see another officer using excessive force, and to then report it to superiors.
BRPD says data they’ve collected shows that those policies have affected disciplinary reports.
“We looked at police misconduct and we realized that over the last two years, that it’s down over 37 percent. So that was a big win. Another area we looked at was our use of force. And over the last two years, we’re down over 23 percent,” Sgt. Myron Daniels said.
Now, the department is heavily focusing on police training. Paul says they recently introduced new crowd control courses and more community-involved exercises for cadets going through the police academy.
Additionally, Paul says the city’s human resource director is now involved in the department’s recruiting and hiring process.
“He has some recommendations for change in some things that we can do in our hiring process, in our recruiting, to make sure that we have a more diverse pool of applicants so our police department can be more reflective of the community it serves,” Paul said.
Speaking on a personal note, Paul says that he truly understands the root of the message being shouted by protesters here and across the country. He believes that his department has taken those first steps, and they’ll continue to move forward, by trying to set an example for other police departments to follow.