I-Team: Civil Service board votes down investigation into BRPD c - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

I-Team: Civil Service board votes down investigation into BRPD chief

Police Chief Dewayne White Police Chief Dewayne White

Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White has had some tough fights lately, but he got a victory Thursday in a civil service case involving racial tension within his department.

Police Captain Lonnie Lockett was involved in a traffic accident while off duty in October 2011.  Another officer, Edwin Beraud, came and wrote up the report, but Lockett felt Beraud got it wrong, so he called one of the officer's superiors, Lt. James Attuso saying, in a recorded phone conversation:

"I'm trying to save this boy from losing his job by talking to his supervisor so he can talk some sense into that boy so they can say to him what he's doing wrong at," said Lockett.  "That's what I'm trying to do.  So if that boy cut that [expletive deleted] report like that, I'm not going to take that lying down."

Following several complaints by Lockett to higher-ups in the department, including Chief White, Beraud changed the report.  He was then disciplined and given five days off.  Beraud appealed and an August hearing was scheduled.  In that hearing, Captain Locket was put under oath and questioned by Beraud's attorney:

"In that conversation with Lt. Attuso, you referred to the Officer Beraud as that boy.  Is that correct?" asked Beraud's attorney.
"No sir," replied Lockett.
"And you told Lt. Attuso that boy would lose his job if he turns that report in," said the attorney.
"I never called him a boy, sir," said Lockett.

Then the board chair, Sgt. Bryan Taylor, asked the same question.  Once again, Lockett denied it, adding that he felt Beraud wrote the report blaming him for the accident because Lockett is black and Beraud is white, adding to a sense of racial tension:

"You told Mr. Avant that you never called him a boy," said Taylor.
"That's correct," said Lockett.
"Lt. Attuso says you did it multiple times," said Taylor.  "You just not aware of it?"
"I'm not aware of it," replied Lockett.
"Because I've been doing this 17 years and I know boy is a racially-motivated term as well. Am I correct?," said Taylor.
"Yeah, when used the other way though," said Lockett.
"Oh it only goes one way?" asked Taylor.
"Yeah, a boy is usually when whites call blacks boys," said Lockett.

Fast forward five months to Thursday's hearing.

"My concern is moving forward is his credibility with this board because his integrity has been called into question because of his testimony and how effective he can be moving forward as a supervisor, commander, leader or anything of that nature," said Sgt. Taylor.

Because Sgt. Taylor says Lockett was caught lying under oath to the board, he asked Chief White why wasn't Lockett disciplined for perjury?  Both White and Lockett's current supervisor, Captain Gerry Bloom said the perjury statute doesn't apply in this case.

Chief White stood by his discipline for Lockett - verbal counseling.

"I did tell Capt. Lockett whether the term boy used by an individual who is white or black to me is derogatory, demeaning and discredits this agency and every member of it," said White.

Plus, Capt. Bloom stressed to the board Thursday that Lockett was doing well in his current position.

"Use of force by police officers is down, crime is down, internal affairs complaints are down drastically," said Bloom. "Everything I ask Capt. Lockett to do, it's done efficiently and within the time frame given to him."

In the end, the board voted against opening an investigation on Chief White, a win for the embattled chief in yet another high-profile fight.

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