Former chief: BRPD under federal watch since 1977

Hearing involving former BR Police Chief Dewayne White and BR Mayor-President Kip Holden
Hearing involving former BR Police Chief Dewayne White and BR Mayor-President Kip Holden

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Former Police Chief Dewayne White says the Baton Rouge Police Department still has a long way to go in improving relations with the black community. East Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle is calling for a federal investigation of the department, following allegations of discrimination.

White says the police department is under what's called a consent decree from the federal government, and he's told things within the department have not improved for that order to be lifted.

"I'm personally aware of numerous instances of racial insensitivities and bias as are you," White said addressing Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden, at Monday's termination hearing.

Mayor Holden says things have greatly improved during his time as mayor, accusing White of using racial tension to his own advantage.

"It is really a sad situation to sit here and watch a man try to play black against black and woman against black and mayor against black," Holden said.

The city's police department has been under a consent decree since 1977, when the Feds found that the city had a longstanding failure to hire, promote and treat equally black employees and females.

"It allows the court to monitor that agency. If they don't comply with the orders within the decree, then the judge can initiate some sort of additional penalty," said Bryan Francis, a former Texas police officer and criminal justice instructor.

Following Hurricane Katrina, officers from New Mexico and Michigan were brought in to assist Baton Rouge police. Some of those out-of-state officers accused BRPD cops of harassing black people and searching them without cause. The U.S. Justice Department later cleared BRPD of those allegations.

"We swept that under the rug...that's why a lot of blacks don't have faith in the police department," said one caller into a local radio show.

White says the department has seen improvements while he was chief, with a dramatic drop in complaints of excessive force.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.