State senators push policy changes to add accountability for Louisiana State Police

Troopers under greater scrutiny after 2019 in-custody death of Ronald Greene

By: - January 24, 2022 5:36 pm
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Louisiana State Police commanders and top brass attend the inaugural meeting of the state Senate Select Committee on State Police Oversight on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. (WES MULLER/LOUISIANA ILLUMINATOR)

The leader of the oversight body for Louisiana State Police said it will consider policy changes in response to recent allegations of troopers using excessive force.

The Louisiana State Police Commission will look at its rules for body-worn cameras, placing troopers on probation and how incidents involving state police are reported, commission chairman Eulius Simien said. His comments came during Monday’s meeting of the Senate Select Committee on State Police Oversight. Lawmakers created the panel last year to bring greater scrutiny to state police.

“The commission has not been very proactive in the past on those things,” Simien said, “but we are moving in the direction of becoming more (proactive).”

Troopers have been under increasing scrutiny following the 2019 death of Ronald Greene in police custody. Greene led troopers on a high-speed chase that ended near Monroe. Body camera video would later show state police beating, dragging and stunning Greene. Troopers originally said Greene had died when the chase ended in a crash and resisted efforts to share the body camera footage. 

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Last month, a Louisiana State Police detective told the Senate select committee he was targeted within the department for refusing to go along with a cover-up of Greene’s death.

Louisiana State Police were conducting an in-house review of thousands of hours of backlogged dashboard and body-worn camera video. The internal panel was disbanded last summer amid growing calls for accountability. Last month, it hired a third-party firm to conduct the review. 

Another proposed policy change Simien mentioned Monday would create stricter reporting requirements for state police when body cameras malfunction. 

State Sen. Cleo Fields (D-Baton Rouge), vice-chairman of the Senate select committee, noted that Louisiana is the only state in the country with a separate civil service commission for its state police. He questioned whether the commission duplicated existing civil service entities and whether it provided adequate oversight.

Simien said State Police are “a para-military type law enforcement agency that needs more specific oversight … than in other types of employment.”  

“I haven’t heard a real good reason why we needed it in the first place,” Fields said in response. “I’d just like to caution members of Legislature when we create these monsters and put them in the (state) Constitution. It’s easy to create, but it’s hard to get rid of.” 

Sen. Franklin Foil (R-Baton Rouge), chairman of the legislative panel, said legislation will be proposed this year “to make things overall better for the (police) department and for our citizens.”

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.

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