Mayor fires police chief after heated public hearing

Police Chief Dewayne White and Mayor Kip Holden
Police Chief Dewayne White and Mayor Kip Holden

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The battle between the mayor of Baton Rouge and the city's police chief came to a head Monday morning in a hearing to determine whether or not the Mayor will fire the police chief. The Mayor decided to follow through with the termination of Dewayne White.

The two were face-to-face at a 9 a.m. Monday in a hearing in the Metro Council chambers.

Mayor Kip Holden laid out his reasons for firing Police Chief Dewayne White. He went through each item on the five page statement he released last week. CLICK HERE to read the Mayor's statement.

White had a chance to defend against those accusations and spoke to Mayor Kip Holden, the Mayor's Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel and an attorney Murphy Foster. White spoke for more than an hour.

Addressing transfers made in department, White said: "When I came to the department, it was top heavy and you [Mayor Holden] had junior ranking officers supervising senior ranking officers. Assignments had been given by favoritism by the union. My transfers and assignments were made with sound judgment and personal observations as to how it was functioning and how best to function."

On leaking information to the public White said: "State law requires that we respond to public office requests. I did not leak confidential information to the press. Louisiana law requires public bodies make it available to public we serve."

You accused me of crouching down. Sir I don't crouch but I have been many times make no apologies for doing my job."

On race problems in the department, White said: "Baton Rouge is one of only four departments in the country that are subject to the [Federal] consent decree.  They [justice department] expressed grave concern that the department is not doing enough to recruit Black employees and females." "We have a serious race relations problem between officers and the public we serve.  I'm personally aware of racial  insensitivities and so are you."

During White's statement to the panel, he introduces Ms. Kelly Morgan, a former cadet with the Baton Rouge Police Department. She made a statement regarding her dismissal from the academy and how she says White did everything in his power to make sure an investigation was conducted on her termination.

After Ms. Morgan's statement, White spoke a few more minutes, not allowing the panel to interrupt him. He refused to answer questions that were asked of him and White's lawyer, Jill Craft, fielded the questions. White gathered his paperwork and walked out of the room, not saying another word.

A heated discussion between Attorney Jill Craft and Mayor Kip Holden began. The discussion was about processes, the law, and how things will be announced about White's future with the Baton Rouge Police Department.

The Mayor said he would have a decision within 10 minutes of him leaving the room.

After about a 20 minute recess, Mayor Kip Holden spoke to the media and those in the chambers about how he will follow Chief Administrator William Daniel's recommendation to terminate the employment of Dewayne White.

In Holden's final statement about his decision,  he said based on what he heard in White's statement, he is "absolutely persuaded and convinced that the recommendation should be followed." He asks that the public keeps an open mind and to see whether he follows through. He says he is also looking out for the citizens of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish.

Holden says White chose to misrepresent Holden's record. He then said to White, who was not in the room, "Shame on you. At no time did I ever order the Chief to not make decisions regarding the officers."

Holden also stated the chief will not be able to hide behind a written statement and false accusations.

He told those in the Metro Council Chambers that at no time did he order the Chief to fire Ms. Morgan.  He also said White failed Ms. Morgan. Then he said a proper investigation will be conducted.

"I am disappointed at the gross misrepresentation the Chief has made," said Holden.

On the race issue brought up by White, Holden responded with "We've tried very hard to deal with issues of race in this department and we've made progress."

WAFB will continue to follow this developing story and will have the latest information on what will happen next on 9News at 5, 6, and 10.

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