…which is what’s behind last night’s foofaraw over Baton Rouge Police Department personnel who are on leave participating in off-duty work details. WAFB had a story about a letter Marcelle sent to the Legislative Auditor’s office about the question…
A Louisiana lawmaker has sent a letter to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor requesting an investigation into officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department who have been put on administrative leave since 2007.
State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, stated she wants Legislative Auditor Darryl Purpera to look into officers who may performed extra duty or other types of payments or benefits while on leave, either paid or unpaid, from June 2007 until now.
She added she wants the letter to serve as a public records request for the finance, payroll, and human resource departments within BRPD to provide the necessary information.
This was the letter…
All this comes because last week WBRZ had a story about Salamoni, the BRPD officer who shot Alton Sterling, drawing a fee for running off-duty details that other officers were actually working (in other words, he was handling all the paperwork and getting paid for it).
Officers are put on administrative leave for various reasons. Typically, if an officer is on leave with pay, they are not on duty and are not to work as a police officer.
“It’s disturbing because you have someone acting as a police officer that doesn’t have the authority to arrest, detain keep the peace or be a law enforcement officer and use force if necessary to react to a situation,” Attorney Michael Adams said.
Adams, who is representing the Sterling family in a lawsuit regarding Alton Sterling’s death, said he found the extra duty pay revelations deeply troubling.
“It’s been a practice over several years that the police department allowed this to happen, but I just wonder at what levels in the department was something like this approved,” Adams said.
“During these critical times, officers are on paid administrative leave which means these officers stay home,” Adams said. “They are entitled to receive their pay but they stay home. They can’t use their police car, use their service revolver or weapon, use their commission or badge to detain or arrest or possibly even use deadly force against somebody.”
When Salamoni was placed on leave, the police department said he was told he had to turn in his gun, car and badge. But, the extra duty form at an area bank where he collected extra pay clearly reports that they needed a uniformed officer in a Baton Rouge Police Department vehicle. Even though Salamoni had just been placed on leave, documents show Salamoni managed that extra duty. Baton Rouge Police Policy clearly states officers on administrative leave, serving a suspension or who have not been confirmed may not engage in extra duty.
“That’s inexcusable,” Rafael Goyaneche, President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission said. “It shows the department is not following their own rules and procedures.”
Baton Rouge Police said after the WBRZ Investigative Unit began asking questions, it began reviewing department files. Interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam said after a review, and learning of this story, the extra duty issue has come to an end.
“We have since changed the policy,” he said. Changes took effect in September.
Goyaneche said he is still concerned, wondering who is overseeing what goes on at Baton Rouge Police.
“Internally, the officers in the department know the rules and when they see the rules being selectively enforced against certain officers it creates some dissatisfaction and morale problems within the department,” Goyaneche said. “Additionally, it shows a lack of supervision with management.”
Even though officers were told they couldn’t work extra duty because they were on leave, Dunnam believes the officers took advantage of a loophole which allowed them to work behind the scenes on the administrative side of extra duty.
“After the public information request was filed by y’all, we looked into the incidents involving officers working extra duty while on leave,” Dunnam said. “The investigation revealed these officers worked administratively, running extra duties, calling officers, these were duties they did from their house.”
If it’s a violation of BRPD policy, so be it. Essentially what this amounts to is the Alton Sterling Fan Club, which Marcelle is a founding member of, doing everything they can to effectively fire Salamoni from the police department. They’ve demanded that, and enlisted mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome to that cause, only they can’t make it happen because of the civil service rules, and so they’re latching onto this.
And Dunnam, in an effort to keep things as quiet as possible, closed the loophole in the rules that for years prior to this nobody cared about since what’s the difference if a cop on suspension gets a little extra money to push paper that will otherwise have to be done by a cop not on suspension. You’d probably say there are efficiencies to be had in the cops who can be on the streets doing cop work or security work actually being there, and cops who can’t be on the streets doing back-office stuff.
But not when the political class wants its pound of flesh on behalf of dead career criminals.
This isn’t any particular indictment of anybody. Denise Marcelle is simply acting on behalf of her constituency, and her constituency would string Salamoni up from the nearest tree if they could. And everybody else is going to do what they can to make her happy, because heaven help us if Denise Marcelle isn’t happy.
Meanwhile, who wants to be a cop in Baton Rouge these days? Any takers?