Thursday’s regular meeting of the State Police Commission was brief but there could be decidedly bad news for members of the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) who approved all those political contributions and the endorsement of John Bel Edwards for governor last year.
Meanwhile, the commission approved a settlement of Troop D commander Capt. Chris Guillory’s appeal of his letter of reprimand that gives him carte blanche to do just about anything he likes with impunity.
But even that didn’t stop his nemesis Dwight Gerst from filing a brand new complaint against Guillory with Louisiana State Police (LSP) internal affairs.
Commission attorney Lenore Feeney told the commission that it had no authority to investigate the association or its executive director David Young because LSTA is a private organization and Young is not a LSP employee.
But state troopers do come under the commission’s authority, she said. Any state trooper who was a part of the decisions to endorse a candidate or to funnel campaign contribution funds through the LSTA’s director “could face disciplinary action.” In fact, she said, the commission has a duty to determine who was responsible for the decision.
Well, it’s for certain that Young didn’t make an arbitrary decision to contribute more than $45,000 to various political candidates. And he certainly didn’t make the decision on his own to have the LSTA reimburse him. Those decisions had to be made by the LSTA board and the board consists of LSP officers.
It remains to be seen what, if any, action will be taken in regards to conducting an investigation of the circumstances of the endorsement and the contributions.
But the commission, without comment, approved a settlement agreement between Guillory and LSP that will replace a November letter of reprimand with a letter of counseling which will cleanse his record.
The reprimand was issued over Guillory’s allowing Trooper Jimmy Rogers to continue working special details for Local Area Compensated Enforcement Program for the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s office and to perform off-duty escorts while serving a discipline-related suspension. Here is the original letter of reprimand and Thursday’s settlement document:
Guillory, while still a lieutenant, had previously been given a letter of reprimand after an investigation into his prescription narcotic use while on the job but was promoted to captain shortly afterward and named commander of Troop D.
A letter of reprimand remains on one’s record and is taken into account in promotion considerations. A letter of counseling, however, does not go into the individual’s personnel file and cannot be a factor when promotions are considered. Here is the original letter of reprimand and the subsequent settlement agreement.
This comes on the heels of LSP internal affairs decision denial of a complaint by Lake Charles resident Dwight Gerst, against Guillory. Gerst had complained that Guillory refused to accept his complaint against Rogers.
Subsequent to that IA denial, LouisianaVoice released an audio recording which clearly shows that Guillory did indeed refuse to accept Gerst’s complaint.
Following Thursday’s commission meeting, Gerst paid a visit to Internal Affairs and submitted a new complaint against Guillory on the basis of the contents of the recording.
Gerst said he was asked by IA why he had not provided the recording originally and his response was that he did not trust the investigators. It seems his fears were well-grounded, considering the manner in which Guillory was exonerated out of hand by investigators. The added exclamation point of reducing Guillory’s letter of reprimand to one of counseling only served to further validate those concerns and clearly illustrated the double standard employed by LSP in meting out discipline.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how LSP will maneuver to deny Gerst once again and continue to enable Guillory.