Col. Mike Edmonson is gone. The good troopers in the Louisiana State Police (LSP) can breathe a sigh of relief. Although gone from LSP in quick fashion and in a manner that is not altogether typical of an honorable retirement, he leaves LSP with some cleaning up to do.
Trooper Ronald Picou was terminated from Troop D for numerous violations of LSP policy. The investigation was initiated by LSP after LouisianaVoice published an article about Picou (https://louisianavoice.com/2015/09/11/gift-cards-for-tickets-payroll-chicanery-quotas-short-shifts-the-norm-in-troop-d-troopers-express-dismay-at-problems/).
Picou ended up being terminated for things like sleeping on duty, lying, and performing tasks in his patrol vehicle while on duty for his private business.
In 2013, by anonymous letter to Internal Affairs from another active member of LSP, Picou was reported for being absent from duty (Payroll Fraud). According to sources who worked with Picou and who audited radio logs, Picou wrote citations for the first 1-3 hours of his 12 hour night shifts and on average, less than half of his 12-hour day shifts. He was reportedly receiving over half of his paycheck in this manner for the better part of a decade.
IA passed that investigation on to the now discredited former Troop D commander, Chris Guillory. Guillory found Picou did nothing wrong in an investigation that seemed more focused on finding whistleblowers.
Picou knew then his fellow Troopers did not approve of his activities. He had to make a choice. Guillory’s clearance of Picou emboldened him to reportedly continue his activities while under the immediate supervision of two of Guillory’s friends, Jim Jacobsen and Paul Brady. Picou’s absences went unchecked until troopers reached out to LouisianaVoice.
In an effort to confirm the reports, LouisianaVoice sent a public records request for Picou’s time sheets and the radio logs to conduct an audit. Realizing what the records would divulge, IA attempted to defuse the issue by finally initiating an investigation.
Picou was still absenting himself from duty which could have been investigated with a simple surveillance operation or a departmental vehicle tracking device. Instead, they notified Guillory who reportedly went on the warpath. Picou was finally terminated. The evidence found in the internal investigation was overwhelming.
IA found 50 days of zero activity although Picou was paid for the entire shift. IA ignored virtually every other day where Picou had some activity at the beginning of the shift but nothing after two or three hours. Sources who conducted radio log audits reported there was much more time of inactivity than that identified by IA.
IA did not document nor did IA investigators even bother to interview Picou for an explanation of his absence from duty. Seriously? What kind of Inspector Clouseau investigation is that?
LSP stacked on the violations. Not for payroll fraud but for things like not remaining logged on to his computer for the entire shift, lying, and sleeping on duty.
By nothing short of investigative blindness or influence by Edmonson, the investigation did not find Picou violated the law. The elements of the offense were met based on the information in the investigation file.
Picou got what he deserved in his termination but we believe he should have been arrested for his public payroll fraud as was a Department of Children and Family Services inspector who was accused of falsifying her time sheets. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/03/13/dcfs-funding-slashed-necessitating-driveway-visits-but-overworked-caseworker-is-arrested-for-falsifying-records/
Can you see a double standard here?
Because of his obvious egregious behavior, Picou posed a liability and had to be sacrificed. Why did LSP ignore the criminal aspect of the investigation? Because they could not pursue the payroll fraud without also pursuing some of the Troop D clique: Chris Guillory, Paul Brady, and Jim Jacobsen.
Jacobsen and Brady supervised Picou during his constant absences while hard-working Troopers had to pull his weight. According to sources, Picou would not help other Troopers.
At a time where law enforcement is getting more and more dangerous, this is an ultimate betrayal of his brothers and sisters in blue. Brady and Jacobsen were either incompetent supervisors or they had to approve of Picou’s actions. Guillory further approved based on his joke of an investigation in 2013.
LSP produced no documentation indicating they investigated obvious supervision deficiencies by Jacobsen, Brady, or Guillory.
Payroll fraud applies to those who steal time and who allow others to steal time. If they knew he was doing it and they damn well should have, they are criminally culpable as well. We believe Edmonson, true to form, protected his friends and ignored that aspect of the investigation. According to our public records requests, none of those responsible to the taxpayers for supervising Picou were punished.
This is old news. Why are we bringing it up now? Picou has a hearing scheduled with the Louisiana State Police Commission to appeal his termination on Thursday, April 13.
Picou, represented by Baton Rouge attorney Jill Craft, can claim he was doing just what he was told to do by his supervisors and that would appear to be the truth. We are told Picou received positive performance evaluations for his work while he was violating the policies for which he was terminated and for non-performance of his duties—payroll violations for which LSP failed to cite as reasons for his termination.
They kept the investigation limited to policy violations to protect Edmonson’s friends. We wonder if Picou will remain loyal to those friends while trying to get his job back.
LSP now has a new commander and we are told he is an admirable leader. This will be one of the first tests of his leadership. The stench of Guillory remains. Guillory was finally removed under a cloud of controversy where there were numerous disciplinary actions, a termination, a sudden resignation, and now multiple lawsuits.
His punishment for his dismal failure to effectively lead Troop D? A bigger command as the head of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division (CVED). We are told this is a position in Baton Rouge. Captain Guillory lives in Sulphur. That is three hours of authorized travel, one way, six hours both ways. We see this as a ceremonious hole for Guillory who has documented issues with prescription drugs.
Will LSP continue to stand behind Guillory, Brady, and Jacobsen? Will it cower to the will of Edmonson and actually allow Picou the chance to once again put on the badge of a Louisiana State Trooper? We believe Picou returning to the ranks of LSP would be a slap in the face to every Trooper and Law Enforcement Officer who has donned the uniform and sworn to protect and serve their communities.
We further believe it is time for LSP to properly investigate Picou and those who allowed him to betray his badge, fellow officers, and the people of Louisiana.