Union leadership lays into BRPD Chief Murphy Paul over firing of officer Siya Creel
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The already heated feud between the Baton Rouge police union and Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul has reached new levels after Paul fired officer and union vice president Siya Creel Tuesday.
According to documents from BRPD, Creel was terminated after an internal affairs review. This past summer Creel gave an interview on behalf of the union for a YouTube channel about controversial billboards that had popped up around the city which were critical of Chief Paul and the city’s high murder rate, warning motorists to enter the city at “your own risk.”
In firing Creel Tuesday, BRPD Chief Murphy Paul said Creel failed to comply with “policy, procedures and Departmental regulations.” Creel’s termination paperwork, obtained by the 9NEWS Investigators, says that Creel was terminated because he did not receive “proper authorization from Chief (Murphy) Paul’s office or the BRPD Public Relations Division to participate in an interview that would lead the general public to believe that you were representing BRPD.”
The termination paperwork says that Creel was wearing his BRPD badge, his department-issued Glock 17 duty-weapon, and his patrol uniform during the July 2020 interview.
“There is legions of footage from the Chief on down representing private organizations in which they have financial interests or even prior union members giving statements to press in full uniform, not just a badge and a gun but the whole darn ball of wax,” said attorney Jill Craft, who is representing the fired officer.
Several members of the Baton Rouge Police Union have been interviewed in the past by WAFB while donning a full uniform.
“That has never been enforced in the past,” Craft said. “It was enforced in this instance because the Chief didn’t like the billboards.”
Chris Stewart, the director of the Louisiana Law Enforcement said the move by Paul was in retaliation for Creel’s comments, accusing him of trying to muzzle the union.
“To see basically a dictator style administration step up like this a try union busting tactics just because you don’t agree with the nature of conversation, it’s childish, it’s inappropriate and we’re not going to tolerate it as an international union,” Stewart said.
When asked, a spokesman with BRPD said the violation happened because this was not a typical TV interview, rather this was something posted to social media, which the department says falls within a different set of rules.
“Social media policy is where the violation occurred,” said Sgt. L’Jean McKneely. “I’m not sure there was a social media policy in place at the time of those other union members when they did the interviews with tv. Now this interview was in a blog which put it in a different perspective and was placed on social media and not up for review through the normal channels that it would’ve possibly gone through.”
McKneely said the interpretation of the department’s social media policy is up to the discretion of the Chief, noting it will be enforced similarly moving forward.
“The line of communication will be if you’re doing an interview, a representation of the union or other, a different entity, don’t wear the police logo or things to where you would be recognized as an officer within the Baton Rouge Police Department,” he said.
Craft said an injunction will be filed in court this week that would keep Creel on the force until a hearing can be held. An appeal to overturn the termination will also be filed by the end of the week.
“Grow up,” Craft said of Paul. “You are the head of one of the largest law enforcement organizations in this state. If you can’t take the heat or you can’t take the criticism from union membership and you can’t take criticism from members of the public then you need to find another job.”
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