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Louisiana State Police leader could be placed under civilian oversight

By: - April 12, 2022 6:02 pm
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Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis speaks at the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

The head of Louisiana State Police has for nearly four decades served as an unofficial member of the governor’s cabinet, answerable only to the state’s chief executive. To increase accountability for the state’s top law enforcement officer, the state Senate voted Tuesday to place a civilian in charge of the state’s top cop and other troopers.

The State Police superintendent is technically under the oversight of the cabinet-level leader of the Department of Corrections and Public Safety. But according to Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc, his oversight for the LSP superintendent is limited to approving his payroll and requests for time off. The secretary has no budgetary or supervisory authority over State Police, LeBlanc told the Senate Committee on State Police Oversight last month.

Baton Rouge Sens. Cleo Fields, a Democrat, and Republican Franklin Foil have co-sponsored Senate Bill 400. It creates the position of deputy secretary of public safety, a role that would directly supervise State Police and answer to the department secretary. The new deputy secretary would take over a variety of responsibilities from the LSP superintendent, ranging from law enforcement tasks such as impoundment of wayward livestock and administrative duties like serving on the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

The bill calls for the governor to choose the deputy secretary of public safety, whose appointment would have to be approved by the state Senate. The governor would also continue to appoint the Louisiana State Police superintendent.

Col. Lamar Davis, the current LSP leader, has come out against the appointment of a civilian to oversee State Police. He told the Senate committee last month that while a civilian could offer outside knowledge and perspective, troopers are best equipped to handle leadership roles in times of emergency and through everyday law enforcement scenarios.  Davis likened the organizational structure of State Police to a military organization.

Leadership  at Louisiana State Police has been under deep scrutiny after the May 2019 death of Black motorist Ronald Greene in troopers’ custody. The district attorney for Union Parish, where Greene died, has said he intends to bring criminal charges against the troopers involved.

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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.

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