BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Anger over the accused actions of an ex-Baton Rouge cop is still evident among the citizens he was sworn to protect. That anger boiled over during Wednesday's Metro Council meeting.
"If we don't look at this issue then we can get ready to put this noose back around our neck," said resident Arthur 'Silky Slim' Reed as he pulled a rope from a bag and waved it in front of council members.
It all goes back to former officer Michael Elsbury, who resigned following an investigation into wildly racist text messages he allegedly sent out.
He was later allowed to change his resignation to a retirement, something Police Chief Carl Dabadie says is not uncommon and has been allowed for other officers in the past. A city retirement official told the council there is no change in retirement benefits no matter if an officer resigns, retires, or is fired.
However, several council members wanted to know why Elsbury was not immediately fired when the alleged text message first came to light.
"I believe we owe the public an explanation," said councilwoman Denise Marcelle, who put the discussion on Wednesday's agenda.
"I wanted to terminate him, but I have to follow the policies," Dabadie told the council
Chief Dabadie said he is also angry over the situation, but allowing the officer to retire was the fastest way to put an end to the issue. The chief explained the process of firing an officer involves various investigations as well as a chance for the officer to appeal. The process can take months. Even so, the chief said he would have pursued termination regardless if Elsbury had not resigned first.
His explanation still left some uneasy.
"What angers me is that he [Elsbury] will possibly be able to go get a job in another police department and carry out the actions he actually texted about," said Reed.
With no action to be taken, the Metro Council and city leaders hope to move forward. Mayor Kip Holden came to the defense of the police department, saying leaders handled the situation as best as they could. Councilmen Buddy Amoroso and John Delgado also lent their support.
"As soon as the chief and myself got wind of what this guy was doing, we basically did whatever we could do under our power to voice our disapproval of anybody on this police department doing the kinds of things that embarrass us all," said Holden.
Councilwoman Tara Wicker says she is still frustrated, but hopes to move forward.
"Making sure officers are accountable. I really love the idea of the body cameras. I think that would prevent a lot of things that would ordinarily happen when the cameras are not on from happening," said Wicker.
The use of body cams received enormous support during the meeting. Dabadie says the department has already received a purchase approval to put cameras in DWI units and is looking for the best funding option for the body cams.