Most of the time when there’s a controversial mess brewing on the public stage, all the principals involved run for the hills.
Not the Baton Rouge Police Union. They’re standing around the train wreck of city police chief Dwayne White’s firing and touting the aroma of the leaking diesel.
“We want to express our support for Mayor Holden’s steps to end the most tumultuous era ever within the Baton Rouge Police Department,” Police Sgt. Chris Stewart said in a news release. “Like Mayor Holden, we are truly disappointed with the lack of leadership exhibited by Chief Dewayne White.”
Stewart’s comments come a day after White held a news conference with his attorney Jill Craft to address his termination. Craft accused the mayor of micromanaging the Police Department.
Stewart said his group tried to work with White “to create a safe and secure environment for our citizens.”
He also said that “despite our best efforts, last year violent crime statistics rose and total arrests fell. Stewart said those results are “directly related” to White’s decision making.
He criticized White for publicly attacking the union and its members “without provocation in an attempt to shift the blame for the failure of his leadership.”
Stewart cited the efforts of the District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office and the police BRAVE unit for a “decrease in violent crime” in the last quarter of 2012 “despite the lack of leadership and positive direction from the Chief of Police.”
White’s supporters say that one of the biggest points of contention between the ex-chief and the union was his emphasis on putting as many officers on the street as possible and getting them out from behind a desk. That idea wasn’t all that well-received, and thus pressure was put on Holden to get rid of White. Which he did Wednesday.
This will certainly become a colossal mess, as White’s hiring of Baton Rouge’s most contentious trial lawyer in Jill Craft signals he’s out for blood. And with the police union stepping to the plate to back Holden – who incidentally is the one player in this donnybrook who has in fact headed for the hills – it’s a great indication that blood is precisely what we’ll have.
The sordid spectacle about to ensue is a boon of miraculous proportions for those who are pushing for an amalgamation of the Baton Rouge Police Department and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office. Such an idea has a few blemishes on it, but the fact the sheriff’s department is not unionized certainly appears an attraction.
All the while, Holden must be lamenting the fact that his third term as mayor is off to a lousy start so soon after a colossal electoral victory over Mike Walker (whom White supported, as it happens).