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THE INVESTIGATORS: LSP head discusses policy changes amid federal investigation

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 6:37 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Now that the head of Louisiana State Police announced changes within the agency, amid a federal investigation Colonel Lamar Davis is buckling down, speaking in more detail about new policies in place within the agency to hold their officers accountable and keep the public safe.

”Looking at best practices around the nation and looking at some of the incidents that happened here at my agency as well as across the nation, I found that I needed to empower our officers, our troopers to act accordingly,” said Col. Davis.

One of those changes is the duty to intervene policy that requires an officer to step in the moment they notice a fellow officer taking things too far. The colonel says that policy extends beyond just LSP.

“If there’s an officer, from our agency or any agency that’s again, going against any part of the constitution, any part of our state laws, federal laws and our policies, then yes it would be on that officer of that troopers’ responsibility to intervene and stop that officer from doing so,” said Col. Davis.

This comes more than two years after troopers allegedly beat and killed Ronald Greene during a traffic stop. Video was leaked earlier this year showing the full encounter. The video reveals Greene was beat, punched and kicked by officers while handcuffed and pleading for his life. At one point, a trooper can be heard admitting in his own words what happened.

“I beat the ever-living f*ck out of him,” the trooper said.

In a separate case, video shows troopers attacking Aaron Bowman. Court records detail the attack, saying former trooper Jacob Brown allegedly beat the man in the head and side 18 times within 24 seconds with a reinforced flashlight. In one of those instances, the case wasn’t investigated until after a civil lawsuit was filed. In the other, the agency says a trooper withheld his body camera video. Colonel Davis says that has to change.

“When I looked throughout our agency and some of the incidents that took place in our agency, I found that there are several gaps in which we had,” said Col. Davis.

In their initial body camera policy, Davis said it laid out that supervisors had to review body and dash cams periodically. He believes more routine review of that footage will ensure cases like this don’t fall through the cracks. The new policy states supervisors have to review a minimum of four of their officers’ body and dash cams every quarter.

“That puts a mandate on it. Now, if you fail to uphold that mandate, now I’m going to hold the supervisor accountable. But beyond that, you know, you must review their reports critically and make sure that their reports align with their video,” said Col. Davis.

This is one of several sweeping changes the head of the agency believes will go a long way in making sure that everyone from the top on down are all held to a higher standard.

“It’s a mandate. It’s in policy and it also makes that supervisor more accountable because they now know that they will be disciplined if they fail to uphold their part of their duties and responsibilities,” said Col. Davis.

The agency announced seven main policy changes in all. Others include de-escalation training and a ban on chokeholds and the use of weapons on a person’s head or neck.

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