In what may turn out to be one of her last official acts, Louisiana State Police (LSP) Executive Officer Rhonda Fogleman, has issued official notice of the transfer, albeit illegal, of Major Derrell Williams from head of Internal Affairs to Technical Support Services “on authority of Colonel Mike Edmonson.”
Additionally, LouisianaVoice has received information from a person who claims to have witnessed Edmonson and family members taking food and beverages from the State Police cafeteria for their personal use.
Edmonson initially said Williams was being transferred to road patrol as punishment for the side trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon during a drive to San Diego last October.
The move would hardly be considered a demotion—or punishment, for that matter. But it would impossible for Edmonson to actually discipline Williams since there has been no due process for him or any of the other three who rode in the unmarked State Police vehicle assigned to Deputy Superintendent Lt. Col. Charles Dupuy to San Diego.
At the same time, LouisianaVoice has learned that Fogleman, who Edmonson earlier threw under the bus along with the four who drove to California in October, has made inquiry into possible retirement.
Edmonson, shown copies of expense reports for Williams that contained his signature, tantamount to approval of the expenses, laid the blame for that approval on Fogleman. He claimed that she used his signature stamp to approve the expenses, which included hotel invoices from hotels in Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
Fogleman has been employed at LSP for 32 years and currently earns $72,800 per year, Civil Service records show.
A terse comment received today from a Department of Public Safety employee who requested anonymity for obvious reasons said, “I have personally witnessed the illustrious Colonel back his state-owned SUV to the back of the cafeteria and load it up with food and drinks and unload at his residence.”
The comment went on to say, “If that wasn’t enough his kids were allowed to do the same. I witnessed it because I was assigned to HQ as my assigned shift.”
LouisianaVoice contacted Edmonson through Public Information Officer Maj. Doug Cain. He did not deny he had taken food and beverages from the cafeteria but did issue a one-sentence statement through Cain:
“DPS cafeteria services are available for purchase by all DPS employees as well as the general public.”
He did not say whether or not he or members of his family actually purchased the commodities. Nor did it address the claim that he and his family members were taking bulk items from the cafeteria in vehicles.
The question of the legality of the reassignment of Williams is hinges on whether or not LSP followed established RULES for filling vacancies. Rule 8.2 says the technical support major must be advertised as a promotion for anyone interested in applying.
That section says, “When proposing to fill a vacancy by original appointment, the appointing authority (Edmonson) shall request the Director (of the Louisiana State Police Commission) to certify the names of persons eligible for appointment, furnishing such information about the vacancy as may be necessary for the Director to decide those persons eligible for appointment.”
Rule 8.4 (a) says, “The Director…shall certify to the appointing authority the names of the highest ranking eligibles from the appropriate list for the class of the vacant position.”
Paragraph (b) adds, “In specific instances, and pursuant to and in conformity with an order of the State Police Commission, a court, or other commission, or agency of competent jurisdiction, the Director may make, or permit the appointing authority to make, selective certification.”
The transfer of Williams and the assignment of Maj. Cathy Flinchum to head of Internal Affairs was Edmonson’s way of addressing the flak over the trip taken by him and 15 other LSP personnel, each of whom was paid for attending the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference last October to see their boss receive an award from IACP.
To date, Edmonson has only addressed the travel and overtime of the four State Troopers who drove Dupuy’s vehicle to San Diego.
That apparently was insufficient to Gov. John Bel Edwards who has ordered an investigation by auditors from the Division of Administration.
LouisianaVoice, meanwhile, has requested copies of Training and Travel authorizations for each of those who went to San Diego as well as authorization documents for taking the state vehicle out-of-state. We have yet to receive those documents.