LSP Superintendent: 'These are some of the darkest days State Police has had'

Col. Kevin Reeves (Source: WAFB)
Col. Kevin Reeves (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The new head of Louisiana State Police described recent weeks as "some of the darkest days" for his agency.

Col. Kevin Reeves, who has served as superintendent for roughly nine months, spoke before the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday, just days after a series of scathing reports threw his agency into the spotlight once again.

On Thursday, an internal investigation by LSP accused former superintendent, Mike Edmonson, of deleting texts that indicated he knew about a side trip to Las Vegas that some troopers took on taxpayers' dime.

Then on Friday, the Advocate reported that a soon-to-be-released legislative audit shows Edmonson may have used public resources for his own personal gain.

These two reports came just weeks after an extensive investigation by reporter Lee Zurik raised questions about troopers falsifying traffic tickets and earning overtime they did not deserve.

"The natural inclination when you're facing a crisis is to blame others, and I just don't think that's acceptable," Reeves said, noting it's time to reflect on where they are, learn lessons, and move forward.

Reeves took over as superintendent in March, replacing the outgoing Edmonson. By June, the governor named Reeves to the post full time.

"I feel terrible for the men and women that get up every day and just want to do the jobs that are committed to the communities they serve," Reeves said.

The colonel says he and his team are doing what they can to improve public trust in the agency. They have overhauled the disciplinary process. Rather than giving the state superintendent the final say, as was practice under Edmonson, Reeves created a review panel. "I wanted to make sure that there was no way that I could impart bias into the decisions being made," Reeves said.

He also says they are asking the state legislature to approve an $11 million technology purchase. The so-called computer aided dispatch (CAD) system will improve accountability by allowing them to better track where troopers are.

Other agencies, including the Baton Rouge Police Department, already have such a system. "Technology has moved forward, and we've lagged behind," he said.

As part of that purchase, Reeves also wants to invest in e-ticketing software. LSP spokesman Doug Cain indicated that technology could help cut back on the abuse exposed in the Zurik investigation, where troopers allegedly falsified tickets and said they were working when they were not.

Last year, the $11 million in funding was originally included in the budget plan for LSP, Reeves said. However, state budget shortfalls caused it to be scrapped.

So far, LSP has offered few specifics when it comes to ongoing investigations into their agency. In a statement, Cain said on potential criminal matters, LSP "has been and continues to coordinate efforts with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

In an interview Monday afternoon, Acting U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson echoed LSP's statement.

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