‘We’re owning it’: La. state police undergo outside review

Mar 11, 2022, 2:27 PM | Updated: 4:43 pm

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana State Police have hired an outside consultant to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the scandal-plagued agency, a potentially years-long process intended to help restore public trust following a string of high-profile beatings of Black motorists.

Col. Lamar Davis, the state police superintendent, said Friday the “overall assessment” will include an in-depth review of troopers’ body-worn camera video as well as the agency’s culture and policies on use of force, hiring and training.

“I don’t like how we got here, but we’re here,” Davis told an oversight committee at the state Capitol. “We’re owning it. We’re fixing it.”

The $1.5 million outside review comes amid federal grand jury investigations into the beatings, including the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene, 49.

Troopers initially blamed Greene’s death on a car crash after a high-speed chase in northeast Louisiana. But The Associated Press last year published long-withheld body-camera video showing white troopers jolting Greene with stun guns, punching him in the face and dragging him by his ankle shackles as he wailed, “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!”

Greene’s death was among at least a dozen cases over the past decade in which the AP found state troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence of beatings, deflected blame and impeded efforts to root out misconduct.

Federal prosecutors are also examining whether state police brass obstructed justice to protect the troopers who arrested Greene, including one who later admitted bashing the motorist in the head with a flashlight.

Meanwhile, a newly convened legislative committee is investigating allegations of an attempted cover-up surrounding Greene’s death and what Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards knew about the case and when. That panel will begin hearing testimony next week.

The outside consultant, the Bowman Group, is contracted through the end of May 2023 “to drive organizational change and improved public safety services,” state police said in a statement.

Davis described the contract as an “emergency request” that allowed the agency to forego issuing a request for proposal. He pledged to make the group’s findings public.

The outside review will proceed whether or not the U.S. Justice Department conducts a “pattern and practice” investigation of potential racial profiling by the overwhelmingly white male force, Davis said.

“This is a need of our agency,” Davis told AP. “What I can’t do is wait — and continue to wait — knowing that I have deficiencies.”

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‘We’re owning it’: La. state police undergo outside review