Black Caucus calls on DOJ for ‘full-scale’ investigation into LSP

The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus wants the DOJ to put a stop to issues it says are plaguing the state’s justice system.
Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus believes police brutality is one of the most critical and important issues facing the state and other areas across the country. Following the deaths of countless black men at the hands of police, the group is now asking the federal government to look into state policing practices.

“If we were satisfied, we wouldn’t be here today,” said the chairman of the Black Caucus, State Representative Edward James, D-Baton Rouge. “We need a full-scale investigation. Those folks in my opinion and many in our position-- those folks should be brought to justice.”

James said a certain level of community trust has been lost following the death of Alton Sterling in 2016, the beating of Aaron Bowman in 2019, and the death of Ronald Greene in 2019, among other cases of police violence.

“There are consistent violations of that we see criminally and folks need to be arrested,” he said. “And that is one of the reasons why we want the feds to come in.”

State Senator Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, said a bipartisan task force was created to help make changes to the policing system in Louisiana.

“We recommended 18 changes and 16 of them passed legislation,” said Fields.

Of those that passed include: Legislation on body camera use; an officer’s duty to intervene; legislation on ‘No Knock’ warrants; and banning the use of chokeholds.

State Police Supt. Col. Lamar Davis commented on past policing actions, recognizing the changes that need to take place.

“For the last 8 months, our agency has carefully evaluated and examined our processes and operational practices leading to fundamental improvements to our operations, training, and administration,” he said. ““These improvements and reforms affect every aspect of our department and is made possible through the dedicated efforts of our Troopers, DPS Police Officers, and support staff. No one is more committed to implementing positive change within our agency than our own personnel who work tirelessly each day to provide professional public safety services to the state of Louisiana.”

“While the process remains ongoing and there is much work to be done, I am extremely proud of the efforts of the men and women within the Department of Public Safety to change our internal culture, promote leadership at all levels, and place focus on investing in our communities. We remain committed to the reform process through continued coordination with the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and invaluable conversations with stakeholders representing diverse populations throughout our state. Through this partnership, we will ensure the implementation of critical changes and the building of trust within the communities we serve.”

“Even when the use of force encounters are handled within the law and policy they can be shocking to the senses,” said Col. Davis “and it is critical that we get it right. And when we don’t get it right, we must hold ourselves accountable.”

Col. Davis said he’s committed to making those changes in the department, but the Black Caucus believes it’s easier said than done.

“The justice and accountability part that the families are owed and the community is owed at this point we believe that it’s outside of his hands,” said Rep. James. “What happened in Troop F, What’s happening in state police is much more than what one man can solve.”

And that’s why James said the Black Caucus is asking the federal government to step in to make sure there are no violations to constitutional rights or federal laws in the Louisiana State Police Department.

Today’s Black Caucus briefing comes one month after two state troopers were fired as a result of an internal investigation into the deadly arrest of Ronald Green in 2019.

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