Baton Rouge lawmaker calls for changes to how BRPD officer-involved shootings are investigated

Baton Rouge lawmaker calls for changes to how BRPD officer-involved shootings are investigated

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In light of the Alton Sterling shooting, a Baton Rouge lawmaker is looking to change how deadly officer-involved shootings are investigated.

Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, is sponsoring a bill during this year's legislative session requiring that Louisiana State Police be called whenever a BRPD officer shoots and kills someone.

James says it took too long for an outside agency to get involved when Sterling was killed at the hands of a Baton Rouge officer in July of 2016. It was not until the next morning that federal investigators took over the case.

James says his bill is all about transparency and accountability.

The bill includes a deadline for the LSP investigation: 60 days.

"Hopefully we'll get the department to respond to those investigations quickly. Make it a top priority, get the people that you need to interview, get the evidence in," said James.

The head of the Baton Rouge Union of Police, Sgt. Bryan Taylor, says they are all for having state police take over. After the Sterling shooting, BRPD adopted an agreement with state police that they would take over similar investigations going forward.

However, Taylor believes the time constraints are too strict.

"I don't like putting a timeline on a murder investigation. It may be so intricate that it takes longer than 60 days to complete," said Taylor.
This bill works in tandem with another James' proposals, which caps how long officers are paid while on administrative leave after a deadly shooting. Under his bill, officers could only receive pay for the first 60 days. After that, they would receive nothing.

"The fact that we have an officer who is almost a year, who I'm still paying his salary. I have an issue with that," said James, referencing the officer involved in the Sterling case.

If they are cleared of any wrongdoing, the officers would be reimbursed for any payment lost. Taylor says this plan is not fair to officers.

"Back pay doesn't pay my mortgage, back pay doesn't undo my bankruptcy," said Taylor.

James has filed other bills dealing with law enforcement, including one boosting training requirements for officers. However, BRPD says they already exceed the standards in James' bill, prompting him to say he may consider upping the requirements even more, making training standards more stringent.

Another bill would give the East Baton Rouge Mayor-President the power to fire the BRPD chief, circumnavigating the civil service rules.

Overall, the head of the police union says he feels James is going after BRPD.

"I think too many people have their minds made up and they're using their positions to pick on the police," said Taylor.

James says his proposals are "not an indictment" of police.

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