LSP has manufactured its own loophole for denying public records requests.
Col. Mike Edmonson apparently has come to the conclusion if he makes the decision not to formally punish, the public has no right to know why. In other words, if someone is victimized by a member of the department of public safety and Edmonson deems it is not worthy of punishment, the public has no right to review the decision.
On the contrary, it would seem to us that when someone is exonerated, this is all the more reason to produce the information. LSP further claims when those who resign in lieu of the completion of an investigation the investigative report is not subject to release.
We think Edmonson is tired of the public’s learning of far too many instances of misconduct at LSP followed by a mindset of circling the wagons. He has initiated a pattern of issuing no punishment in an apparent effort to hide misconduct. The reason for not administering punishment is in the investigation file. Many of the investigation files from LSP have shown to be seriously biased in favor of some while very severe for others.
Typically, LSP has denied public records requests for investigation files when the department finds no wrongdoing stating. The standard response to requests for the information generally reads: “The investigative report you requested is not subject to release as the individual right to privacy afforded by Article 1 Section 5 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 outweighs the public’s right to review.”
We maintain the investigation file is a public document and serves a legitimate public interest.
The reference to Article 1 Section 5 of the LA Constitution is a mirror of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution to protect citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. The amendment specifically lists, “person, property, communications, houses, papers, and effects.” We have no access to those nor does LSP without a properly issued warrant as the amendment states. If it is illegal for us to access, it is also illegal for LSP to have obtained it.
We have accumulated a growing list of denials based on this fantasyland God-like authority bestowed upon himself by himself (Edmonson).
Captain Chris Guillory
LouisianaVoice has received a response to a complaint filed against Captain Chris Guillory for lying to LSP internal affairs investigators. A citizen said that Guillory refused to accept his complaint against a State Trooper in Troop D. The response to the complaint from LSP states in part, “A determination has been made that Captain Guillory did not make a false statement to IA” with his denial that he refused to accept the complaint. The complainant provided an audio tape directly contradicting two documented statements made by Guillory to LSP internal affairs. You can review it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd-JV3rKjko.
LSP will not release the investigation file because Edmonson did not punish his friend Guillory. The public is denied the right to know why Guillory was not found in violation. We have the tape and we have the LSP documentation listing Guillory’s statement two times denying unequivocally he refused to take the complaint.
LSP has found no wrongdoing by Guillory involving the recently terminated Trooper Ronald Picou even though he was responsible for the investigation of the exact same allegations in 2013, the “Brady Day” investigation, or the investigation involving the padding of time sheets by Brady. He has emerged without any formal discipline.
Guillory has since been removed from his command at Troop D. He has been given a larger command in Baton Rouge. Sources have informed us Guillory’s new position is in violation of state police commission rules on residency because he lives in Sulphur but works in Baton Rouge. Sources further report Troopers are authorized three hours one way for travel to Baton Rouge. That means Guillory works two hours out of every eight hour day.
LT Paul Brady
We requested the documentation involving the investigation into “Brady Days,” paid time off for arresting someone for DWI in violation of quota and payroll fraud laws—so named the Troop D supervisor who allowed, indeed, encouraged the practice. Sources indicate Brady days was an unwritten policy at Troop D under some supervisors and this was confirmed by IA investigators. We were informed there was no finding of wrongdoing on Brady’s part. But again, we were denied access to any investigation findings.
Brady was cleared even though he was the supervisor for Trooper Picou who was recently terminated. Picou was proven to be neglectful of duty. Brady was paid to be a supervisor and sources say if he would have simply done his job Picou might still have his.
But again, because there was no disciplinary action taken against Brady, the investigation record remains out of the public’s reach.
A recent complaint has been filed against Troop D personnel alleging a wrongful DWI arrest. Sources say the arresting Trooper was a beneficiary of paid time off for Brady days but was also punished for not accumulating a sufficient number of DWI arrests.
Trooper Jimmy Rogers
Rogers suddenly resigned amid the beginning of the massive investigations at Troop D. We were denied access to his records because LSP did not complete the investigation. This is another method of Edmonson escaping culpability for poor leadership—ask them to resign so no one finds out. Sources report Rogers resigned after it was discovered he was committing payroll fraud on parish-funded overtime details known as Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE). Rogers was reportedly issuing citations on his regular shift but claiming them on different dates in order to accrue overtime.
Accepting excess money for violating state issued permit/bribery
We requested the investigation files involving a Trooper who accepted extra money for moving oversized loads in violation of the state issued permit and possibly bribery. It was discovered after another Trooper refused the extra payment. The response was to make the Trooper give the extra money back. We were notified no complaint was filed so they did not investigate it.
In a letter from LSP dated April 27, 2016, we were again notified no complaint was filed. All of our other requests resulted in the investigation of the allegations but they skipped this one. The excuse that they do not investigate misconduct until someone files a complaint is silly. A complaint has since been lodged with LSP so maybe they will finally investigate.
We are not done
The failure to release records at the discretion of one man with a proven track record of unethical behavior and poor decision making should not be allowed to stand. The public has a right to know about the circumstances surrounding a resignation in lieu of termination amid an investigation.
They further have a right to know why a public employee was found to have committed no wrongdoing—if for no other reason than to fully clear the employee’s name and his public standing. There is no reason to hide such information unless indeed, there is something to hide.
LouisianaVoice is exploring legal remedies for these denials.