Louisiana State Police chief looks to reform agency with diversity and technology

New dispatch system will allow top officials to track trooper behavior

By: - November 29, 2021 6:15 pm
Louisiana State Police looks to reform through diversity and tech

Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis speaks at the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis, who was appointed last year to reform the embattled law enforcement agency, said Monday he is making significant leaps to diversify his agency and will soon usher in new technology to better manage personnel. 

Part of his reform measures include using a new dispatch system that will allow department heads immediate access to records that can, among other things, track the behavior of troopers. 

The agency currently relies on supervisors to submit paperwork to hold troopers accountable for policy violations, Davis said. But that system is localized and not shared among the troop divisions throughout the state. For instance, Davis said, if department heads want to access the record of a certain call or incident, they must call the troop supervisor and request the paperwork. 

The agency has hired a company to replace that outdated structure with a computer-aided dispatch system that will be interconnected among all regional troops statewide, Davis said. It will help with both tracking criminal activity and managing personnel. He expects it to be fully implemented by July of 2022. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed Davis in October 2020 after the agency was rocked by several high-profile incidents of troopers using excessive force against Black and Brown motorists such as 49-year-old Ronald Greene who died in 2019 after being beaten by a group of white troopers. A report compiled by the agency found that 67% of their use of force incidents involved Black or Brown people. 

Speaking at the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, Davis said he was disturbed by that report but said more research is needed to see what variables may have had an impact on that finding. 

“We don’t choose who we come in contact with,” Davis said. “We follow the evidence. We follow the information. We follow the intelligence. And from there we do our jobs, and we will continue to do our jobs to try to impact public safety. But it doesn’t mean that we should not be taking a look at this information to determine if there is something that we can improve upon, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

The agency also began its 100th training academy class this fall, and Davis said it is one of the most diverse classes in the history of the Louisiana State Police. 

“I think that’s important because our society has become more diverse,” he said. “For me, diversity has always been a value added…That’s what I’m building throughout our department…I think we’ll all see the benefits of it.”

 

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Wes Muller
Wes Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Much of his journalism has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and coverage of municipal and state government. He has received recognitions including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus and a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his two sons and his wife, who is also a journalist.

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