BRPD chief talks about effort to improve police/community relations

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police chief vowed Tuesday to start using some non-traditional ways to address crime in the city. He made his intentions known at a community luncheon centered on police reform.

Chief Murphy Paul was at the head of the table for a community meeting hosted by Together Baton Rouge. Member, Janice Miller, first praised the newly appointed chief for making what the group considers progress. "This is what we gave to the mayor, and when we met with the chief a few weeks ago to review the policy, the changes had been made," she said.

The changes were made in BRPD's use of force policies, such as how officers deescalate situations, give verbal warnings, and when they should not discharge their firearms. It also includes how officers report those incidents. Together Baton Rouge called on the chief to hold his officers accountable and render the proper supervision to make sure they stay in line. Chief Paul responded.

"We are changing perceptions, how you see the police officers, and how the police officers see the communities that we serve," he said.

The chief says he and his staff are putting together a response team to tackle domestic violence, mental illness, truancy, and other issues. Part of that plan, Paul says, is a cops and clergy program which would call on church leaders to help them when they are short on manpower. "We cannot reach the streets from the pulpit, so we are going after some non-traditional ways to go in some high crime areas when we are short on police and asked our clergy to help us," said Paul.

Chief Paul called on Together Baton Rouge to reward his efforts by supporting him in getting pay raises for police officers. Group leaders are proposing a civic academy campaign aimed at backing the chief's efforts.

The chief also addressed questions regarding the current union contract, which calls for the destruction of the results of disciplinary investigations. He's hoping to change that when it expires in June.

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