Police chief reiterates plan for improvement

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Inside a church in the heart of Baton Rouge on a Sunday afternoon was one city leader making sure his vision for the community was clear.

"I want them to understand that there is always room for growth," said Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul. "My staff and I met with our officers and we believe that they agree that we can do a better job of being a progressive agency."

Almost 40 days after being sworn in as the new top cop of Baton Rouge, Chief Paul is making a firm stance against issues plaguing residents.

"89 homicides in the city of Baton Rouge and only 47 percent of those homicides were solved," Chief Paul said. "That is below the national average."

Paul told the congregation at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church that number is unacceptable.

"I'm a stakeholder in this community," said Reverend Dr. Herman O. Kelly, Jr., pastor of the church. "I'm not a fly by night person. I'm excited about what can happen."

Before being picked as the new chief, Paul said he created a six-point strategy to get the city on the right track. That plan includes addressing crime, putting more officers on the streets, technology improvement, listening to key audiences, community policing and holding officers accountable.

"We're gonna be transparent in everything we do," Paul said. "We believe that if we do the right thing, who cares who's watching, doesn't matter. That's why we now have body cameras."

Paul said his plan came from speaking with the community and officers in the department.

"I'm excited about that because we have a community that's engaged and concerned, and we have police officers that are embracing change," Paul said.

Chief Paul said you can expect to see police officers become more professional, but the community needs to do something in exchange.

"As a progressive agency, we should always be growing and changing as an agency. There are some parts of the public that don't necessarily treat us the way we should be treated and that's what we're asking, show our police officers respect," Chief Paul said. "Comply, listen, follow the directions of the police officer when you're stopped."

The Chief said if an interaction with an officer becomes unprofessional, file a complaint, in fact, he encourages it.

"The majority of the complaints can be addressed through coaching, mentoring and training and in some cases, discipline."

Chief Paul said he'd like the community to give them a chance to address and correct an issue and feedback from the public will help in that effort.

Paul said he's also asking the community for patience, change, he says, doesn't happen overnight.

"Things take time… changing a culture. Culture is change," he said. "It's not unique to law enforcement."

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