Sheriff apologizes for park arrests

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has apologized for the arrests of nearly 12 men over the past two years. The law that was used to arrest the men was found unconstitutional a decade ago.

The sheriff says since the law was still on the books in Louisiana, he was not aware it had been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The men were arrested after reportedly meeting undercover deputies in local parks and agreeing to travel with them to a private residence for sex.

The Sheriff released the following statement late Monday afternoon:

I want to apologize on behalf of our agency that the way these park investigations were handled made it appear that we were targeting the gay community. That was not our intent. I also apologize to anyone that was unintentionally harmed or offended by the actions of our investigations. Our agency made mistakes; we will learn from them; and we will take measures to ensure it does not happen again.

I have taken the following steps to begin to move forward:

1. I have met with the EBR District Attorney to improve communication between our offices and evaluate ways to ensure that arrests are not made based on unenforceable and unconstitutional laws.

2. I have contacted the DA, Louisiana Legislators and the La. Sheriff's Association to begin discussions about having the unconstitutional sections of La. R.S. 14:89, Crimes Against Nature, removed from the Louisiana Criminal Code.

3. I have publicly stated that the Sheriff's Office will not use these unconstitutional sections of the law in future cases.

4. I have informed all employees of the Sheriff's Office they are not to use these unconstitutional laws.

5. I am conducting a comprehensive evaluation of undercover operations made by our deputies and will make changes to ensure better supervision, training and guidance.

6. I have scheduled to meet the Capital City Alliance group in order to further the dialogue between law enforcement and the LGBT community.

Again, we made mistakes. Rather than make excuses or point fingers, we think it is most beneficial for our community as a whole to learn from this and move forward together in a positive direction to ensure the peace and safety of every individual we are here to serve.

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