Mayor Holden addresses police chief situation

Mayor Kip Holden
Mayor Kip Holden

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Mayor Kip Holden spoke to reporters Thursday, just one day after he leveled some serious accusations against his own police chief, Dewayne White.

"There are no politics involved whatsoever," Holden said.  "This has been going on for a while and I didn't want to rush to judgment but when you see a pattern of things evolving, the case you then make to the people is a lot more solidified because you've seen this pattern over and over again."

Chief White, who is now on paid leave with have a chance to respond to the accusations of misconduct during a public hearing on Monday in the Metro Council chambers.

White's attorney, Jill Craft, says her client will be more than ready.

"This is a man of integrity and honor and one who has never backed down from a fight in his life and frankly my perspective, doing something like this does nothing more than highlight, 'Oops, we got it wrong so, no we have to fix it and the fix is wrong,'" said Craft.

Holden says the department has not been compromised

"We're going to do everything we can to make sure Baton Rouge is safe," said Holden.

Safe perhaps but Metro Councilwoman Denise Marcelle is concerned about the reasons given for White's dismissal. Reasons she says don't add up.

"I won't speak for the entire council but for the most part we've been told the chief was doing an excellent job and that crime was down that he was a part of BRAVE and now the union is saying he wasn't a part of BRAVE and so there are a lot of inconsistencies," said Marcelle.

Mayor Holden insists that programs like the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination project will not be affected but Marcelle says with each day Chief White is not at police headquarters, officer morale is at risk.

"I'm constantly getting calls every single day from one officer after the next saying they are disappointed that the chief was not allowed to do his job and these are officers of the law that are working there that have been there 20 years or 30 years," said Marcelle.

This scenario now heads to Monday's termination hearing open to the public. A hearing that Mayor Holden says will determine what's next.

"He'll make his comments, I'll make a decision and we'll see if it goes civil service route or the court route," added Holden.

While Dewayne White has lost the official support of his police union, he gained the support of the Magnolia State Peace Officers Association.

The group released this statement saying in part:

"Though many disagreed with some of his actions, the chief was willing to make the unpopular decision regardless of whom it affected. It was that type of action, though it upset some, that brought confidence and belief to others."

Holden said he welcomes input to a point.

"I respect the organization, but the organization can't be mayor and police officers at the same time - when they don't know all of the facts," Holden said.

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