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Gov. Edwards says ‘more work needs to be done’ when it comes to reforming State Police

Governor John Bel Edwards being interviewed in Monroe, La. on October 12, 2021.
Governor John Bel Edwards being interviewed in Monroe, La. on October 12, 2021.(KNOE)
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:43 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Governor John Bel Edwards was in Monroe on Tuesday, October 12 to speak to the Monroe Chamber of Commerce. Edwards discussed the economy, population growth in Ouachita Parish, infrastructure and COVID-19.

After his remarks, KNOE Political Reporter Tyler Englander spoke with Edwards one-on-one. Part one of their conversation surrounded the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Louisiana State Police.

Tyler Englander: “The FBI has opened an investigation primarily because of what’s happened here in Monroe in Troop F with the death of Ronald Green in Union Parish, and the beating of Aaron Bowman here in Monroe. When you saw those videos, what did you think?”

Governor John Bel Edwards: “Obviously, I was very disappointed and distressed. I mean, it’s conduct that you never expect to see out of people who are in uniform. And it’s so far below the standard that everybody should expect. Clearly, things needed to be done. Changes needed to be made. And that’s actually happened. And it’s happened in a lot of different ways. You know, we have Colonel Lamar Davis, now, as Superintendent of State Police. His command group around him in Baton Rouge has been changed. There have been changes in the command here at the Troop level in the Monroe area as well. But there’s also changes in policies. The way they’re training officers, but also when and how they initiate investigations and what the ramifications of those investigations can be, even if there’s a pending criminal investigation into the same matter. So there’s been an awful lot of changes made. And obviously, you know, we’ve got a long ways to go to fully restore the trust and confidence of the people that are served by the State Police and other law enforcement agencies, here and around the country. But particularly, we are responsible at the state level anyway, in Louisiana with the State Police. And we’re going to continue to be transparent, and we’re going to continue to be responsive, because we want people to have confidence in the State Police, regardless of who they are, or what they look like, where they live, and so forth. But I will say that the overwhelming majority of our State Police officers are professional. They are good law enforcement officers, and their job is obviously very dangerous. And you saw what happened in Baton Rouge this past weekend. And that with Master Trooper, Adam Gaubert, which is obviously a very difficult thing for all of the State Police family. But, we are doing better. And we’re going to continue to do better.”

Tyler Englander: “You talked a little bit about the change in leadership and some of the policy changes as it relates to training. Do those structural changes go far enough?”

Governor John Bel Edwards: “Yeah, well, we continue to look at it. And one of the things that Colonel Davis is doing is bringing in an outside entity to look through all of that. See where we are. What changes have been made? What best practices may be elsewhere in the country that can be brought to bear here in Louisiana as well. So we’re not confident that we’re exactly where we need to be. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be bringing in this entity to do this study. It’s a company that does this nationwide, and quite often, they do it for the U.S. Department of Justice. They will go in and take a look at a law enforcement agency and see where the changes needed to be made. So that’s the sort of thing we’re going to continue to do. We’re going to continue to meet with all the stakeholder groups and advocacy groups, with legislators, and so forth. And so I’m not here to tell you we’ve done everything that should be done. But what I’m telling you is that the changes have been very robust and meaningful, and they’re going to be helpful. And I have no doubt about that.”

Tyler Englander: “If someone were to be pulled over tonight, do you have complete faith that they’re going to be treated properly?”

Governor John Bel Edwards: “Yeah, I mean, I have faith in that. Now. Obviously, you do until you’re disappointed, right. But there’s been so much emphasis on this. And again, I believe that the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers, and this is true at all levels, whether it’s local, Parish, you know, state, whatever, are really good professional public servants, and they’re there to protect and serve. And I know that the changes that have been made, that we just talked about, make it more likely, yeah, that someone is going to be treated the way that they would expect and deserve to be treated in the way that the public would want them to be treated.”

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