BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Murphy Paul was officially sworn in Monday afternoon as the new chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department.
East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, members of the metro council, District Attorney Hillar Moore, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, and Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Kevin Reeves were all on hand as Paul took the oath Monday afternoon.
Broome named Paul as the new police chief on December 29, 2017. Paul replaces Chief Carl Dabadie, who retired in July.
During his swearing in ceremony, Paul addressed the city's record-breaking year of homicides, saying it was "unacceptable." The new chief said the police department has made arrests in 47 percent of the homicides last year. He also said the way to improve the number of arrests in those homicide cases is through better relationships between police and the community.
"Police reform doesn't mean anti-cop or that you're soft on crime," Paul said, "We must do something different."
In his first official speech as chief, Paul noted that a new class of police recruits was starting on the same day that he was taking the oath, but said it's not the only way to solve the many issues the city faces. "The citizens of Baton Rouge deserve to feel safe and we protect them," said Paul. "We can't arrest our way out of this problem. We can and we must become a safer Baton Rouge and I believe that we can do this."
Among the changes Paul plans to implement are restructuring where the department places manpower, allocating more money for overtime, and buying more cameras to help with investigations. He says many of those efforts are already underway. "There has been some activities already going on and we talked about the importance of intelligence-led policing and that's what this is," said Paul.
It's a focused approach the chief hopes will send a clear message to the few people he says are responsible for the city's violent crime. "We're coming after the worst of the worst," warned Paul. "You've been identified and we are coming after you."
Apart from crime, the new chief says he also hopes to make some changes within the department. He announced his picks for three provisional deputy chiefs, including former interim chief Jonny Dunnam, chief candidate, Robert McGarner, and Lt. Herbert Anny. Those position will not be filled permanently until applicants complete a formal civil service process. "It's going to take some time, but it is important to build a leadership team around me," said Paul.
With several ambitious goals in mind, Paul says at the center of it all is improving relationships between police officers and the community they serve. He believes this begins with mutual respect. "Show our police officers the respect they deserve and our officers will demonstrate the respect and professionalism that you deserve as citizens," he added.
Paul was formerly the deputy superintendent of the Bureau of Investigation with Louisiana State Police. During his 23 years with LSP, Paul worked his way up the ranks. During that time, he took on roles in Support Services, Internal Affairs, Narcotics, Detectives, Criminal Intelligence, and Patrol. Paul, a native of New Orleans, holds a degree in Criminal Justice from Loyola University in New Orleans.
Paul's appointment follows a difficult two years for Baton Rouge, where the relationship between police and the community has in many ways splintered – in no small part due to the shooting death of Alton Sterling. The new chief called for a culture shift, spelling out his vision for "community policing."
He says he has a meeting scheduled with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry next week to discuss the Sterling investigation.
Paul will be taking a slight pay cut with his new job. He previously made $150,750 annually in his position with LSP. His new job will pay $146,510 per year.