The hammer has fallen on Troop D.
LouisianaVoice has learned of a meeting in Lake Charles on Tuesday at which time state police were informed that they could consider the entirety of Troop D to be under investigation by State Police Internal Affairs.
We’re not certain of the reason for the latest IA scrutiny but we feel confident that it may be a not-so-thinly veiled message to troopers to cease talking to LouisianaVoice.
That’s what generally happens when events begin to make the guys at the top a little uncomfortable and the necessity to quell rumblings in the ranks becomes a top priority. The natural thing to do is to go after the messenger. Administration just doesn’t like whistleblowers.
It’s a time-tested formula that is pockmarked with successes and failures of varying degrees—but mostly, in the final analysis, abject failure. We’re seeing it with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and with Edward Snowden for blowing the cover off illegal surveillance on the part of the U.S. government. We’re seeing with Hillary Clinton’s email debacle. We saw it with Nixon’s plumbers in the Watergate scandal. We saw it with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski.
It’s been an ongoing crusade of the Jindal administration for five years now, including placing state offices off-limits to LouisianaVoice and singling out and ostracizing the wrong state employees as sources for some of our stories. In the end, it only made Team Jindal out to be even bigger fools.
Such tactics usually do blow up in the collective faces of the perpetrators, those with the most to hide. It has been our experience that the more the Jindal administration tries to keep the lid on unsavory activity, the more determined state employees become to serve as anonymous sources to expose unscrupulous officials and questionable activities. LouisianaVoice is getting more solid leads to stories these days than ever before. Another reason for that is that where Jindal has only contempt for state employees, we maintain that no one should have his dignity undermined by a superior or an elected official with an agenda.
Take the long-simmering situation over at Louisiana State Police Troop D in Lake Charles. Events that occurred five years ago are just now coming to light and the glare of that light should concern each of us about the leadership in the vanguard of the state’s top law enforcement agency.
The reason we’re only now learning of these events? Failure on the part of top administration to take decisive action in the first place but instead to attack those coming forward with information of inappropriate and even illegal activity within Troop D.
It would seem enough that State Police Commander Col. Mike Edmonson condoned but then denied his part in an effort last year to sneak a bill amendment through the legislature that would’ve added about $50,000 per year to his retirement. It was only through an anonymous tip that LouisianaVoice was able to break that story and Edmonson’s furtive financial windfall was subsequently aborted.
Perhaps it is the mesmerizing effect of too many photo-ops with the governor that has given him delusions of celebrity status. But now, as more and more sordid details are leaking out of Lake Charles, the long shadow of doubt is being cast over Edmonson’s qualifications—and ability—to continue to lead and command respect from Louisiana’s state troopers.
The matter of Capt. Harlan Chris Guillory is an excellent example. Edmonson, instead of suspending Guillory for violating State Police regulations on reporting the use of prescription medication, went after those who prompted the investigation of Guillory’s drug use, imposing much stricter penalties on the messengers than on the offender.
Guillory, in fact, was promoted in rank and made commander of Troop D following an Internal Affairs investigation of allegations of prescription drug abuse—allegations that ultimately were proved accurate.
Capt. Barry Branton, a supervisor with an unblemished record who approved a Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) on Guillory was placed on administrative leave for several months and demoted in rank to lieutenant on July 20, 2010. The findings against him included making false statements to Internal Affairs investigators, failure to report suspected violations by a fellow officer, failure to conform to laws, improper dissemination of information, unsatisfactory performance, providing false information on departmental records and for conduct unbecoming an officer.
Branton appealed and ultimately reached a settlement with State Police. He agreed to accept a demotion to lieutenant but won a major concession by having his suspension expunged from his record and by receiving full back pay.
Lt. Chris Ivey, who first suspected a prescription drug problem on the part of Guillory and who initiated the PMP, was cited for unsatisfactory performance and for providing false information on departmental records.
Edmonson tagged Ivey with a 48-hour suspension without pay but he appealed and the State Police Commission overturned Edmonson’s penalty but did not award Ivey attorney’s fees. The story didn’t end there, however. Edmonson, determined to extract his pound of flesh, appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeal through the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Instead of reversing the State Police Commission, however, the First Circuit not only upheld Ivey’s reinstatement but also awarded him $1,306 in legal fees.
So while Internal Affairs investigators Kevin Ducote and Kelly Dupuy (wife of Edmonson Chief of Staff Charles Dupuy—which raises a whole new set of questions about impartiality and fairness of the investigation itself) prepared a 10-page report on Guillory’s use of prescription drugs, believed to be OxyContin, while on duty, a series of interviews produced an 80-page report highly critical of Branton and Ivey.
It was that 80-page report that sent a clear message to Branton and Ivey, whose concerns about Guillory were, in the end, validated. They were punished and demoted while Guillory was promoted from lieutenant to captain—and to Commander of Troop D.
And that same message went out to the rest of Troop D on Tuesday: Don’t rock the boat.
But don’t take our word for it. Here is that 80-page LSP BRANTON REPORT (It’s long and takes awhile to load, so be patient.)