Earlier this morning we told you about Together Baton Rouge’s propaganda offensive on behalf of mayor Sharon Weston Broome as she prepares to wage war against the Baton Rouge Police Department. Now we have the first elements of the ground offensive coming into view.
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome has laid out new policies for the Baton Rouge Police Department that require officers, among other things, to attempt to de-escalate situations before using physical or deadly force. The mayor said de-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.
Broome said the new policies, which go into effect immediately and were developed in conjunction with police department officials, will prevent officers from using chokeholds on suspects, unless it’s necessary to use deadly force and weapons are not available or operable. Officers cannot fire at moving vehicles unless an immediate and deadly threat is posed, and they will be required to give a verbal warning when deadly force is going to be used. Officers will also be required to intervene if they see another officer using excessive force and report any instance of excessive force that they observe.
Broome said the new policies “will enhance existing policies and training” and “will also serve as a mechanism for accountability.”
De-escalation is a fine concept, so far as it goes. This is all a response to the Alton Sterling shooting, though, and Sterling was shot because he had a gun in his pocket – the cops were called because he’d been brandishing it at people in front of a convenience store at 2 a.m. – and resisted arrest. How exactly the police could have de-escalated their encounter with him is a question Mayor Broome probably should answer since she’s now an expert at crisis policing.
We’re told the new police procedures are only part of what’s coming. A well-placed source told us this morning that Broome is also setting up a citizens’ advisory board of some stripe which will review complaints about police behavior and pass them along to the mayor – and two of the members of that board will be well-known local race hustlers Gary Chambers and Cleve Dunn.
When Broome was confronted about the advisory board and the propriety of getting the Metro Council behind it she huffed that she didn’t need their imprimatur. The question then becomes whether she has enough juice to bear the consequences of that board’s actions – namely, what happens when the BRPD rank-and-file takes issue with these policies and the board’s judgements according to their dictates – alone.
What’s clearly coming is a collision between the mayor and the police, particularly the police union. It isn’t hard to envision that attempting to abide by Broome’s procedures will result in an officer being killed – BRPD has already suffered those losses since Sterling’s death, as we know too well – and once that happens we’ll be living in interesting times.
And by the way, there’s an outfit called Dialogue On Race Louisiana which is pocketing $21,000 from the city-parish government – money which has not been appropriated by the Metro Council, which is the source of some consternation – to “train” police cadets on how to avoid racism. A perusal of the link above will uncover some interesting Facebook posts about such thought-provoking topics as the inherent racism of American street designs, not to mention an endorsement of the Together Baton Rouge study about racist drug busts in town, and also this…
We were passed along a couple of camera shots from the text used in the class…
So there is the future of policing in Baton Rouge. Not surprisingly, rank-and-file cops in town are more up in arms than they’ve ever been. And it’s becoming clear that the city’s future won’t look much like its past – which will make some happy, and others depart in increasing numbers for Ascension and Livingston Parishes.
UPDATE: Here’s the roster of the advisory council, which includes some law enforcement members and some real superstars on race relations…
The Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection include: Fr. Rick Andrus, Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, Broderick Bagert, Attorney Alfreda Tillman Bester, Constable Reginald Brown, Pastor Renee’ Brown, Gary Chambers, Councilman Lamont Cole, Kelvin A. Cryer, Chief Carl Dabadie, Mark Dumaine, Cleve Dunn, Jr., Col. Mike Edmonson, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Casey Hicks, Pastor Donald Hunter, Josh Howard, Mary Jane Marcantel, E.J. Milton, Michael A.V. Mitchell, Tonja Myles, Rev. Reginald Pitcher, Attorney Joyce Plummer, Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, Dr. Dereck Rovaris, Michael W. Victorian, Pastor Charles Wallace, Pastor Lee T. Wesley, and Dr. Katara Williams.