BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana governor and Baton Rouge mayor called for peace and civility in light of the federal decision in the Alton Sterling case.
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Speaking at a press conference less than an hour after the decision was officially announced by the US Department of Justice, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said she understands people are frustrated.
"This decision by the Justice Department to not file charges does not mean the police officers acted appropriately," Broome said.
Broome asked people to take confidence in efforts that have been made since last July to improve police accountability, including introducing new policies for BRPD. She also noted a recent decision by the Metro Council to purchase body cameras for all Baton Rouge police officers.
Even so, both the mayor and Gov. John Bel Edwards acknowledged there is still a long way to go for the community to come together.
"We still have too many people in our community who are afraid of the police, and too many police officers afraid of members of our community ... it doesn't have to be that way, it should not be this way," Edwards said.
Broome and Edwards were quick to criticize how word of the decision got out publicly before the family was informed.
Several national news outlets reported the decision Tuesday afternoon, while the family only met with officials from DOJ officials Wednesday morning.
"It was disrespectful to the family," Edwards said. "But it also made it harder to do what is always number one priority for us, and that is to maintain public safety."
Despite the DOJ's announcement, questions still surround the actions of the officers that July morning. So far, the mayor said no decision will be made on the future of those officers – including whether they should be fired – until after the Louisiana Attorney General completes his investigation.
"Then I will talk to Chief Dabadie and we will make a decision from there," Broome said. "But we have to let this process play out."