BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Speaking candidly at a news conference Tuesday, June 9, Baton Rouge Police Department Chief Murphy Paul said things have to get better between BRPD and the Baton Rouge Union of Police.
“I see value in everybody,” said the chief. “Do I wish that we could work more closely together? Absolutely.”
Both sides have long butted heads over certain issues, most notably the firing of former officer, Blane Salamoni, following the shooting death of Alton Sterling in 2016. The chief later chose to apologize to communities of color in the city, saying the officer should have never had a badge to begin with. He stood behind that statement Tuesday.
“I said that I was sorry and that we can do better and we must do better,” he added. “That response I received from the Baton Rouge community, from leaders, was thank you.”
At the time, the union strongly criticized the chief’s words, calling them character assassination against the former officer.
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One day after Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome blasted the union as “getting in the way of rooting out bad officers,” the chief took a softer approach, saying he would like to take steps to improve its relationship with the department.
“I would like a better relationship with them,” he admitted. “I think there’s some cultural issues that I try to look at and see like how we got here, and I think I have an overall understanding of that, but I still see value in them and I’m going to continue to try and win their hearts as well.”
As the nationwide conversation over police reforms builds, the chief also laid out several ways BRPD has already worked to improve training, accountability, and how the agency handles complaints against officers. He believes all those things will help to prevent incidents like what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“It is one of our responsibilities as law enforcement officers to protect life. Life is precious and our training and our policies must emphasize not only deescalation, but also the sanctity of human life,” said Chief Paul.
The chief says they’re working every day to reevaluate their policies and make changes where they can in order to better serve everyone.
“We will continue to move forward with our focus to build a stronger and a united Baton Rouge,” the chief added.
WAFB reached out to the Baton Rouge Union of Police for comment on what the mayor and the chief have said in recent days. A spokesman for the group said they had not spoken to the chief or mayor and did not want to offer comment at this time.
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