SARGE: Dropping The Reins

The controversy surrounding Chief Dewayne White’s suspension or termination has bounced around the media for a while. Both sides cast allegations and nobody runs the risk of coming out of this controversy in good shape. Mayor Kip Holden won’t come out smelling like a rose. The entire episode stinks of political chicanery.

The position of Chief of Police is a political football meant to be free-kicked by the Mayor-President in Baton Rouge. Picking and choosing who’ll direct the firepower and force of law into neighborhoods deserving of enforcement (or its more desired format of presentation “protection”) is a major power-stroke. This is an important point to understand.

Just how much power must a mayor possess to hold the reins of political power in any administration as well as decide who best exemplifies an understanding of the enforcement needs of the community? And what is the ratio of power held, to the value of experience in the field a mayor seeks to hold sway over? Is the power fundamental to the politician’s core beliefs or is it in developing expedient alliances allowing him to sell-out one faction or another whenever the need arises?

It’s been said “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” (Henry IV, Part 2 Act 3, scene 1. 26-31). In this case we wonder just how easily Kip Holden’s crowned head is sleeping these days. He’s nothing if not self-confident, but there comes a time when even a head of state must recognize the siege is in place and the longer the controversy continues, the greater the jeopardy for the sheltered monarch. How long can a minion such as the highly political leader of the pack at the police union keep the monarch’s fortress gates from being breached?

This entire situation was described as the horse being placed backwards in its traces forcing it to look at the wagon. Any movement, while appearing to be forward looking, has the horse driving the wagon in reverse. This is the case in this instance. Where the Baton Rouge Police Department is alleged to be working toward greater cooperation with the community, its Chief Teamster, the man originally tasked to improve relations with the community alongside the Sheriff and District Attorney has been thrown off of the wagon. The reins were given to a ham-fisted know-it-all trying to assure only the horse is happy.

As much as I dislike out-of-control unions and their self-aware hierarchies it must be noted the Chief of Police is the lead Teamster (driver) of the wagon and its propulsion unit. He’s not a union member and he’s responsible for the smooth operation of the wagon and the wagon-train to follow. In no case when the horses were spooked or stampeded did it ever turn out well for the Wagoner, the cargo or the passengers. The horse simply cannot be trusted to direct the action. A horse is smart but it doesn’t reason. It can be headstrong, undisciplined and counter-productive to the task at hand. It’s easily distracted.

Where else can a worker tell the boss what he’ll do or not do other than under the direction of a union?

The inmates shouldn’t control the asylum nor, the foxes stand guard over the henhouse. It’s dangerous to police by committee. Somebody must be the boss. Somebody must dedicate their full attention and energies to the subject and task at hand. That person runs the risk of derision, insubordination and in this case outright rebellion from within the ranks.

In no way can the horses decide the route taken or negotiate the load to be hauled. The job must be done. In NO case should the Chief get anything other than the respect and support of his boss, the mayor.

But in this case the mayor, having colluded in the deposition of the Chief of Police he appointed with great fanfare not so long ago, is allowing the horses to run pell-mell toward the cliff they know needs avoidance in order to serve the public.

The mayor hasn’t just dropped the ball on this one; he’s dropped the reins controlling the direction of his entire administration.

Thanks for listening.



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