EBRSO agrees to pay court fees for wrongly arrested in BREC parks

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office has agreed to pay court fees for any of the wrongly arrested in BREC Parks.

The District Attorney says at least 10 gay men were arrested in undercover operations at a park.

Deputies were acting on a law ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court 10 years ago.

The Sheriff issued a formal apology through a statement this week and says he plans to meet with leaders of the gay community to discuss issues going forward.

East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux is releasing the following statement in response to the arrests made under an invalid Statute:

The past few days our agency has worked to take positive steps forward to do what we can to repair any damage done by past mistakes in reference to arrests made under a statute deemed unconstitutional. We will learn from this, make changes to ensure it does not happen again and move forward. These are the steps we have taken since Monday:

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. We discussed working to help those wrongfully arrested to file for expungement, and my office has offered to cover any court fees not waived.

2. I have contacted those in the legislative branch of government, including Louisiana Legislators and the Sheriff's Association, to begin discussions about having unconstitutional sections of the law 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 Sheriff's Office employees through a memorandum that they are not to use this unconstitutional law.

5. I have added protection for sexual orientation to our existing employee anti-discrimination policies.

6. I am conducting a comprehensive evaluation of undercover operations made by our deputies to enhance supervision and training.

7. I am working with our training department to ensure that we are training our deputies to treat all members of the community equally and fairly.

8. I have met with the Capital City Alliance and Equality Louisiana in order to further the dialogue between law enforcement and the LGBT community. We also established a means of ongoing dialogue.

9. I have issued a public apology to those harmed and offended by these investigations.

We made mistakes. Rather than make excuses or point fingers, I 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 the Sheriff's Office is here to serve. We will continue to respond to any and all calls for service we receive and work to reduce crime in the parish.

In closing, I feel that we have said all that we can say in relation to these cases. By the advice of our legal counsel we will not make further statements in regard to these cases.

Thank you for your attention to this issue and for working with us to go forward.

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