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Hammond councilmember aiming to change city laws; wants police chief to be elected, not appointed

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HAMMOND - Tuesday's agenda for the Hammond City Council meeting included a controversial discussion about the chief of police position. 

Councilman Devon Wells proposed the discussion. Several members of the public took their dissatisfaction to the podium, saying that the current system is corrupt.

"The citizens of Hammond, Louisiana deserve a better chief of police than what we're dealing with," Resident Sal Nicolosi said.

The current Chief of Police, Edwin Bergeron has been under scrutiny by the people of Hammond. In 2020, he was caught on video punching a handcuffed man multiple times. In July, an unarmed man was shot in the face in his bed when Hammond police officers kicked in the door for a search warrant. Councilmembers said the officer who fired the gun was Bergeron's kin.

WBRZ asked Chief Bergeron why he believed the council targeted his position during the discussion.

"Listen what I'll say is I don't believe in the politics of policing, Bergeron said. "On one end we get told we need to be out on the streets and be proactive and on the other end we get slammed if we go out there and do it."

Right now, Bergeron is still acting as chief of police. He can only be appointed and fired by the mayor. That's why Councilman Wells is pushing for this to be put on the ballot, so that the citizens can pick their own chief.

"Just like the people elected me, now the people will have the chance to elect the chief. Because it's not me, it's the community that's having a problem with the chief and he don't even speak out when he does something wrong or when a family member does something wrong, but if he was elected he would go out and let everyone know we made a mistake. Now we're going to sit here and let the state do an investigation instead of him doing an in house investigation," District 3 Councilman Devon Wells said.

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