Political analyst reacts to Officer Vappie’s response to NOPD investigators
Vappie was a member of Mayor Cantrell’s security team but is now under investigation
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A local political analyst agrees with calls from some city council members and others for an independent probe into the actions of a former member of Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s security team.
Robert Collins, Ph.D., of Dillard University also reacted to NOPD recordings of interviews with Vappie by investigators of the police department’s Public Integrity Bureau.
A series of Lee Zurik investigations showed a video of Vappie coming and going from a city-owned apartment in the French Quarter with Cantrell while on and off the clock. Vappie also told NOPD investigators that he and the mayor, his superior, would go exercising together.
Vappie was asked by a PIB investigator, “Is there a personal relationship based on the definition that’s in this policy?”
Vappie answered, “No.”
Collins responded to that exchange.
“It was pretty much what most people expected. We expected that he would deny that there was a relationship with the mayor, obviously, it’s in his interest to deny, so I don’t think anybody was surprised by what he said,” said Collins. “I think some people might be surprised that some of the other detail officers said they had a problem, they had an issue with his behavior and they took it up with him.”
However, Collins was surprised that the recordings which are supposed to be confidential during investigations ended up at the city’s law department and, according to the city attorney, were inadvertently sent to a member of the Housing Authority of New Orleans.
“It’s a surprise that so many people had their hands on these recordings, had access to these recordings that they could be accidentally put on a flash drive and given to a member of the public, that it certainly a very unusual procedure. All of the law enforcement people that I’ve talked to, people with decades of experience said they’ve never seen anything like this,” said Collins.
He, too, favors having an external agency investigate Vappie.
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“Yes, at this point in time I do believe the investigation has been compromised because, of course, with investigations it’s not enough to avoid impropriety you also have to avoid the appearance of impropriety and I believe that the confidence of the general public has been shaken,” said Collins.
The latest controversy comes as New Orleanians are waiting to find out if recall leaders collected enough valid signatures to force a recall election against Cantrell.
“Of course, we don’t know what the final numbers are going to be on the recall, so we’ll have to wait on that but it just adds one more issue to create instability within the mayor’s office at a time when ideally, you know, the citizens would like to see the mayor focused on things like jobs and crime,” said Collins.
FOX 8 reached out to the federal monitor for the NOPD consent decree for comment for this story but so far that has not happened.
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