Former police officer: racial divide within BRPD

Al Burns
Al Burns

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The mayor's firing of the Baton Rouge police chief revealed deep-rooted racial divisions within the ranks at the Baton Rouge Police Department according to one man who says he has seen the problems firsthand.

"It's sad to say," said Al Burns, a former BRPD officer who made his way through the ranks

"You still have the white police department and the black police department."

Al Burns first witnessed the racial divide in the Baton Rouge Police Department back in the 70's.

He was one of the officers who joined in on the consent decree which is a federal order set up to eliminate discrimination within the department.

Eight years ago, Burns won his part of a $1 million judgment from a mostly white jury. The jury found that Burns and fellow officer Willie Alcorn did indeed endure plenty of racism while at BRPD.

Willie Alcorn died before the city paid the judgment it owed.

Burns watched Monday's hearing between the mayor and chief and it worried him.

Burns says recently spoke with a several younger black Baton Rouge officers and Burns says they tell him as it relates to race - things are pretty bad right now.

"To be honest with you, it's every day," Burns said.  "A lot of them are afraid to speak up. I've heard it's because they are worried about retaliation and I remind them that's what we went through but as a group you can win."

The now-fired police chief hinted that micromanagement isn't helping the department comply with the decree which, basically seeks to end a practice of racial discrimination.

"That division you have right now shouldn't be, because our loyalty as police officers is to the public," said Burns.

"If there's dissension among us, then it's going to reflect towards the public."

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.