Mayor Broome addresses BRPD allegations in letter to the editor
BATON ROUGE - On Wednesday, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome shared a letter to the editor about the current allegations of abuse by Baton Rouge police officers.
Mayor Broome said that since she was elected in 2017, she has worked to build a bridge of trust between the Baton Rouge Police Department and residents. She said the "bad actors in this situation should not define the work of the hundreds of men and women within our police department."
Her sentiments come hours after Troy Lawrence Sr., a BRPD deputy chief whose police officer son was arrested last week after it was revealed he tased a handcuffed suspect, was placed on administrative leave.
Read the letter below:
Created in 1865, the Baton Rouge Police Department has existed to protect and serve for over 150 years. Parallel to its mission of service are decades of systematic discrimination, poor training practices and lack of sensitivity that has led to eroded relationships and broken trust. Accountability is a vital element of American policing. Contrary to the popular view that effective crime control and respect for constitutional principles are competing values in policing, experts today increasingly recognize that lawful conduct and accountability are essential for crime-fighting. Both individual officers and law enforcement agencies should be held to account for their actions.
When I became mayor-president in 2017, I championed reform within the department to increase trust, fairness, justice and mutual respect. In our community, we have built pathways to adopt national best practices. We have also endeavored to address and eliminate elements within the institution that focus exclusively on force, as this approach exacerbates trauma. The bad actors in this situation should not define the work of the hundreds of men and women within our police department who are doing what is noble and are making the correct choices in the face of an incredibly difficult career path. I am grateful for those who are working with lawfulness and legitimacy.
Our collective progress over the last seven years has been noted nationally and locally. However, it hasn’t completely addressed generational and discriminatory issues. These current and heinous allegations concerning a few individuals underscore that our work remains unfinished. The ideal we aspire to is not always in line with the present reality, as we are now realizing.
The first time I was made aware of the “BRAVE Cave” was through media reports last month. The recent allegations made against members of the Baton Rouge Police Department are disturbing to me, as I’m sure they are to the residents of Baton Rouge who have worked to build a fabric of unity, and hope for our community.
The allegations have left me with a choice: Ignore the storm and hope it passes quickly, or face it with transparency and accountability. I choose to face it, because I refuse to allow any person with a position of authority over the people of Baton Rouge to act egregiously and without consequences.
Due to the nature of these disturbing allegations, we made the immediate decision to permanently close the facility known as the “BRAVE Cave.” We have also disbanded the street crimes unit and engaged the FBI to conduct an independent and impartial investigation. BRPD is conducting its own criminal and administrative investigations to unearth the depth and breadth of this issue. We are dedicated to quickly uncovering any and all misconduct and ensuring those responsible are held accountable.
I encourage anyone with information about these cases, or allegations related to these cases, to come forward. We have provided an easy online portal at brpd.com to file an official complaint, and we will use those as a means of helping us repair what is broken.
We are taking this matter seriously and are committed to truth, justice and the safety of the Baton Rouge community. The “BRAVE Cave” allegations, or any inhuman act, is not the Baton Rouge any of us want, so there will be accountability and there will continue to be change. We are better than this, and we must not allow ourselves to be defined by this moment in time. Red Stick will continue to rise in the face of these allegations because there will be consequences for those who have done wrong. It is the right and only thing to do. –Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome