Does systematic racial discrimination as an unspoken policy exist on a widespread basis within the Louisiana Department of Public Safety (DPS)?
If claims contained in a LAWSUIT filed against Louisiana State Police (LSP) in Baton Rouge State District Court are borne out, allegations that include a claim that job openings were not properly posted so as to allow the promotion of pre-selected applicants, the answer would be an unqualified yes.
And what’s more, the silent policy of excluding blacks from promotional opportunities originates in the highest administrative offices of LSP, i.e. those of State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson, according to the petition filed by 21-year law enforcement veteran Kevin Sulcer.
Sulcer, a Senior Trooper/Detective, who has been with LSP for the past 12 years, is “the only black Detective at headquarters in the Baton Rouge area,” his petition says. Moreover, he says, there is only one black LSP Detective in New Orleans and the LSP Narcotics and Intelligence Divisions have no black Troopers or Investigators.
“Every black Detective has either left the department or (has) been transferred,” his petition says.
Sulcer is represented by Baton Rouge attorneys Jill Craft and Crystal Bounds.
The claims laid out in Sulcer’s lawsuit, if true, would appear to be yet another in an ever-growing number of allegations of favoritism, mismanagement and poor morale among rank and file State Troopers.
Sulcer claims he and other black Troopers have been subjected to harsher penalties for minor offenses than have their white counterparts.
As an example, he singled out Lt. Col. Charles Dupuy (Deputy Superintendent/Chief of Staff) who he said forced him to write a 3,000-word essay (reminiscent of Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control former director Troy Hebert who is currently polling 0% in his bid to succeed U.S. Sen. David Vitter) when he was attending LSP training academy but never required white Cadets to do so.
Besides Dupuy, Sulcer also specifically names Col. Mike Edmonson, his brother and Command Inspector Maj. Paul Edmonson, Dupuy’s wife, Commander Kelly Dupuy (can you say nepotism?), Head of Internal Affairs Maj. Catherine Flinchum, Internal Affairs Commander David McClendon, Internal Affairs Executive Officer Lt. Aaron Marcelle, Master Trooper Kevin Ducote, and Lt. Chris Holmes as being part of a pattern of discriminatory policy within LSP.
Sulcer said in his lawsuit that Holmes berated him because of his race for leaving his vehicle running while he interviewed an inmate. As he left the interview, Sulcer said he noticed another Trooper’s unoccupied vehicle idling. “Col. Edmonson was parked in front of this officer’s unit and did nothing to reprimand him,” the petition says.
The incident prompted an Internal Affairs investigation of what Sulcer says was a “minor infraction” that should have been handled by Sulcer’s supervisor. (This the same Internal Affairs Division that refused to investigate a Trooper’s harassment of a citizen in Lake Charles and which refused to conduct a thorough investigation of a Trooper habitually leaving his shift after only a couple of hours to go home to sleep—until LouisianaVoice drew so much attention to the two cases that IT finally was forced to conduct a superficial investigation.)
Sulcer received a letter of reprimand for leaving his vehicle running and for the encounter with Holmes on Oct. 30, 2015. He filed an official appeal of the letter to Mike Edmonson on Nov. 6, 2015. Edmonson has yet to respond to that appeal, the petition says.
But the most egregious act of discrimination, the petition says, concerns an opening for a polygraph position.
“LSP handpicked a white employee, Donnie Guitreau, to fill the polygraph position,” Sulcer said. But manner in which it was done, if Sulcer is correct, would appear to be a blatant violation of State Civil Service procedures.
“Mr. Guitreau was not qualified for the position (so) LSP sent him to polygraph school before the position opening was posted or formally announced,” the petition says. “After Mr. Guitreau completed the school, LSP then posted the position, leaving him the only ‘qualified’ applicant.”
Sulcer says he has more law enforcement experience than Guitreau. Moreover, he says, Guitreau “has a disciplinary history whereas (Sulcer) does not.”
He also claims that LSP failed to have in force an effective policy regarding racial discrimination/harassment and reprisal/retaliation in the workplace and that LSP has refused to address his complaints.
If LSP’s past history is any indication, reprisals against Sulcer have only just begun (with apologies to Karen and Richard Carpenter).