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Archive for the ‘State Police’ Category

It’s no secret that LouisianaVoice has often been in disagreement with actions of the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC), the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) and LSTA legal counsel Floyd Falcoln. So, to say it took the perfect storm to bring us all into accord is something of an understatement.

The Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) has inserted itself into a roiling controversy surrounding actions by a former Sterlington High School football coach and in the process, crossed swords with the Ouachita Parish School Board.

And while at first blush, it would seem inappropriate for a state agency like LSPC to engage itself in local matters, especially in the discipline of a high school coach, Robert Burns of the blog Sound Off Louisiana provides key insight into how double standards are applied at the sacred altar of high school football.

Thanks to Burns and his POST of today (Sept. 11) which was re-posted by Walter Abbott’s LINCOLN PARISH NEWS ONLINE, we have a pretty clear picture of why the LSPC, the equivalent of the state police civil service commission, got itself involved in a local matter—and we concur fully in the LSPC action.

In April 2017, when a student party ran short of beer, Sterlington football coach JACK GOODE voluntarily provided partiers with more booze, including vodka. When 16-year-old Chandler Jones resisted the hard stuff, Goode forced him to drink it until he got sick. Goode then struck the teen several times in the chest and face.

A responsible adult, upon being told by a bunch of teenagers that their party had run out of beer, would have shut the party down immediately. But Goode, by all accounts, was anything but a responsible adult on the night in question. In fact, Ouachita Parish sheriff’s deputies described him as “highly intoxicated.”

That was bad enough but it turned out that the Jones teenager was the son of state trooper Joseph Jones who, though off-duty, arrived on the scene simultaneous to the arrival of Ouachita Parish sheriff’s deputies. Jones had been contacted by a deputy who was the parent of another student at the party.

Goode was arrested and charged with battery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. District Attorney Steve Tew, however, reduced charges against Goode to misdemeanor battery. Goode walked away from the incident after paying a $300 fine and stepping down as a teacher and coach at Sterlington High School.

The LSPC became indirectly involved when it upheld disciplinary action against the elder Jones for involving himself in a sheriff’s office investigation while off-duty. By a 4-2 vote, Jones was handed a 12-hour suspension while Goode was quickly hired by the Ouachita Parish School Board as a teacher at West Monroe High School.

LSPC, incensed at Goode’s being allowed to remain in the school system after such egregious behavior while Jones received a suspension for doing what any reasonable parent would do under similar circumstances, fired off a LETTER highly critical of the board’s irresponsible actions.

The letter, signed by all seven LSPC members, said that even though Trooper Jones “acted with greater restraint than many parents would have under the circumstances,” the commission nevertheless meted out what it deemed to be appropriate discipline for Jones having intervened in a sheriff’s department investigation, discipline the letter said “was in order for a violation of State Police policies.”

“Yet, despite the horrendous conduct of Mr. Goode, we understand that he is still employed by the School Board and still has access to and authority over minors in your school system.

“This Commission is appalled that this School Board continues to employ Jack Goode in such a capacity after the events that occurred in April 2017, and (that) it continues to allow Mr. Goode to work as a teacher of minor children at West Monroe High School.”

Well, someone has to be the adult in the room and it’s obvious that neither Goode nor the Ouachita Parish School Board are prepared to stake out their claims to such lofty ideals.

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I have to respectfully disagree with Kevin Reeves.

Col. Reeves, the Louisiana State Police (LSP) Superintendent, penned a LETTER to the editor of the Baton Rouge Advocate today (Friday, Aug. 31) in which he questioned the appropriateness and purpose of the paper’s continued reporting of what he referred to as an “incident” that occurred “over 20 months ago.”

The “incident,” of course, was that ill-advised road trip by four troopers to a San Diego convention—in and LSP vehicle—by way of the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Las Vegas, which proved to be the tipping point that brought the career of Reeves’s predecessor, Mike Edmonson, already rocked with a succession of scandals, to an abrupt end.

Reeves, who by all accounts, has demonstrated his determination to set LSP back on course and to restore its image, said it is time for The Advocate (and LouisianaVoice, I assume, though we were not mentioned in his letter) to “move forward” and to pull back on its negative coverage.

I’m certain that Col. Reeves needs no reminder that it was the State Police Commission (the LSP equivalent of the State Civil Service Commission) that kept the issue alive by its interminable foot-dragging in its investigation of the trip.

Repeated attempts by retired State Police Lt. Leon “Bucky” Millet of Lake Arthur to prod the commission into a full-blown investigation of the trip, as well as several apparent violations of LSP regulations and state laws by the Louisiana State Troopers Association, were met by delays followed by yet more delays and postponements as the commissioners seemed determined to turn a blind eye to events occurring under their collective noses.

In the end, Reeves attempted to mete out appropriate punishment to the four troopers who pleaded ignorance of regulations and who said they were merely following the directives of Edmonson. (Ironically, such pleadings of ignorance never carry the day when a motorist is pulled over for a traffic violation.)

But again, it was the commission, in its resolve to tidy things over, that overturned Reeves’s punishment in a recent hearing held in Monroe. That, for good, bad, or indifferent, kept the story alive. When the head of Louisiana State Police is blocked from disciplining errant troopers for actions they well should have known were improper, that’s legitimate news and it should be reported.

First, it was Maya Lau who covered the State Police Commission. She was a quiet but effective reporter and did an excellent job until she left to go to work for the Los Angeles Times. She was succeeded by Jim Mustian who also held the commission accountable. Now he’s leaving for a job in New York with the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, yours truly is staying put. I’m not going anywhere and I will continue to report on all governmental wrongdoing, local or state.

For instance, there is still the pending matter involving State Trooper Eric Adams:

WAFB-TV story

Warrant-redacted

Criminal dismissal

Petition

Motion for Sanctions

Answer & Recon Demand-filed

 

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It was the end of February 1968 and John J. McKeithen was just completing his first term of office. (Unlike today, when statewide inaugurations are held in January, state elected officials then took their oaths of office in May.)

McKeithen had earlier upset long-standing tradition when he managed to change the State Constitution during his first term so that he could run for re-election. Previous governors could serve only a single four-year term before being required to (a) seek another office or (b) start raising funds and lining up support for a return four years hence. In other words, governors were barred from serving two consecutive terms.

But this isn’t about McKeithen’s savvy political machinations that allowed him to become the first modern-day governor to succeed himself. It is instead about another precedent set by the Caldwell Parish native: The invoking of gubernatorial powers under Article IX, Section 8 of the 1921 Louisiana State Constitution which resulted in the heretofore unthinkable act of suspending a sitting sheriff from office.

It’s about how the current State Constitution, adopted in 1974, removed that authority from the governor.

And it’s about how, given the freewheeling manner in which some sheriffs wield power in their respective parishes, it might not be a bad idea if that authority was reinstated if for no other reason than to serve as a constant reminder to sheriffs that their actions could have consequences.

Yes, sheriffs are elected officials answerable to their constituents and if they keep getting elected, what business would a governor have in being able to say otherwise, especially if the sheriff and governor were political adversaries?

And if the sheriff can fool the electorate, there are always the courts. But face it, the local district attorney and the sheriff are usually strong political allies who present a formidable team to anyone who would question their authority. There are exceptions, like DA Earl Taylor and Sheriff Bobby Guidroz in St. Landry, who don’t exactly gee-haw on much of anything.

But then there is Louis Ackal in Iberia Parish whose strong-arm tactics, especially where blacks are concerned, has become a source of embarrassment to the locals—or at least should be—and would be even more of a pariah if the local newspaper, the Daily Iberian, was courageous enough to call him out for his egregious flaunting of basic human dignity and his contemptuous trampling of constitutional rights.

In the case of Jessel Ourso of Iberville Parish, across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, it was just a matter of a little Louisiana extortion that prompted McKEITHEN TO OUST OURSO on Feb. 9, 1968. Iberville was in the midst of a construction explosion with chemical plants sprouting up all along the Mississippi and the high sheriff was in a unique position to take full advantage of the boom.

Ourso placed his brother in a no-show job as a union steward for the Teamsters at one plant and contractors were ordered to lease equipment from Ourso’s nephew, State Trooper Jackie Jackson. The tipping point, though, was apparently Ourso’s requirement that contractors use a guard service owned and operated by the sheriff.

One witness described an atmosphere of “just plain racketeering and shakedowns through collusion of individual law enforcement officers and labor.” (Imagine that: the word collusion was being bantered about half-a-century ago.)

McKeithen’s decision to suspend Ourso was based on the recommendation of then-State Comptroller Roy Theriot, a recommendation which in turn stemmed from a report by Legislative Auditor J.B. Lancaster which laid out Ourso’s strong-arm tactics, including his preventing contractors from firing workers who were performing no work.

In Ackal’s case prisoners have died under mysterious circumstances, dogs have been loosed on helpless prisoners in the parish detention center, prisoners have been sexually abused, and women employees have sued—and won settlements—over sexual harassment claims.

A television network recently aired a documentary on Ackal’s fiefdom, concentrating on the death of Victor White, III, who, while he sat in a patrol car with his hands cuffed, was fatally shot in the chest—a shooting that was ruled by the local coroner as a suicide, as improbable as that had to be, considering his hands were cuffed behind him.

Ackal’s office has paid out more than $3 million in legal judgments and settlements in his 10 years in office—a rate of $25,000 for each of the 120 months he has been in office. And that’s not even counting the attorney fees of about $1.5 million. Those numbers are far more than any other parish in the state except perhaps Orleans.

And there are other cases currently pending against Ackal and the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Like the LAWSUIT just filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in Lafayette by Michael and Suzzanne Williams.

In that action, the pair said that sheriff’s detective Jacques LeBlanc, who has since left the department, obtained a search warrant for their home because he “thought” he had reason to believe the couple was in possession of “illegal narcotics, drug paraphernalia, currency and other controlled dangerous substance(s).”

When voices were heard outside their bedroom, Michael Williams went to the front door. When he opened it, he was ordered out of the house and deputies stormed the house. They forced Mrs. Williams outside clad only in bra and panties, refusing to allow her to dress. Williams was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car while deputies ransacked their home.

Officers “did not find a scintilla” of illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia or illegal narcotics, their petition says. Following a fruitless search, they were released with no charges being filed.

Williams subsequently appeared at the sheriff’s office on numerous occasions in an attempt to obtain a copy of the search warrant and affidavit but were provided with neither, although they have since obtained a copy of the search warrant through other sources. They still do not have the affidavit on which the warrant ostensibly was based. Instead, they were told by Dist. Judge Lewis Pittman, who signed the warrant, that LeBlanc swore under oath that he had good reason to believe they were in possession of drugs.

They are claiming that LeBlanc knew his statement to the effect that he believed they had drugs was false and that he committed perjury in order to obtain the warrant.

They are seeking $2 million in damages in their lawsuit.

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Former state trooper Jimmy Rogers, according to his attorney Ron Richard, “probably sang the NATIONAL ANTHEM at more events in this town (Lake Charles) than anyone else.” Now Rogers is singing again but this time his singing is confirming the existence of TICKET QUOTAS in Troop D first reported by LouisianaVoice as far back as September 2015.

Senate Bill 799 of the 2008 legislative session breezed through the Senate by a 37-0 vote and the House by an 86-18 count to become ACT 479. The bill by Sen. Joe McPherson, theoretically at least, prohibited quotas for law enforcement officers. Of course, if you think that stopped the practice in small towns scattered over the state that depend on ticket revenue to balance their budgets, I have some surplus Scott Pruitt Public Servant of the Year nomination forms for you.

Rogers, who was ARRESTED on 74 criminal counts, first resigned ahead of a State Police Internal Affairs investigation, and then requested to be DISCIPLINED AND REINSTATED.

But thanks to the efforts of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, the Calcasieu Parish DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE pursued the matter and Rogers eventually pleaded guilty to two felony counts of malfeasance in office, which automatically disqualifies him from working in another police department.

But if you thought Rogers would go quietly, you would be wrong. As his law enforcement career circled the drain, he decided he would pull others down with him and his manifesto, published on Facebook, only served to validate what LouisianaVoice wrote about Troop D over a period of at least two years.

The Lake Charles AMERICAN PRESS published a story about his lengthy Facebook statement but did not publish the actual 10-paragraph bitter, self-serving post.

So, here it is in its entirety (with punctuation and spelling corrected):

My name is Jimmy Rogers. As most of you have seen on the news lately, I used to be a Louisiana State Trooper, note that I have not been a Trooper since 2015. As a result of a “VERY LIMITED” investigation into the LACE program, I was recently arrested and I pled guilty to 2 counts of malfeasance in office. I have stayed quiet for the duration of this situation. However, I feel like it is time to share my side of the story. My hope is not that you will feel sorry for me, but that it would spark an outcry for justice, an outcry for a REAL investigation. That investigation would reveal that Jimmy Rogers is only one of hundreds, if not thousands of Troopers who have done the same thing. I’m sure certain people and the guys from the LouisianaVoice and other media outlets will expect me to be angry and lash out at them. But I’m not! The public is tired of dirty cops, dirty prosecutors, a dirty system and, specifically, a dirty state police office! Ladies and gentlemen, SO AM I! 

Let me start out by saying, I am GUILTY. I am guilty for participating in what is, in my opinion, a gross violation of YOUR constitutional rights. You are being taxed without your knowledge. 

The District Attorney’s office dangles a few dollars in front of police officers and in turn those officers write a required amount of tickets. It is well-known that the DA only cares that you give him 2 tickets for every hour he pays for. To answer the question everyone always asks, (YES THAT IS A QUOTA)!! If you do the math, he gives the cop 1/3 and pockets the rest of the money. (The temptation to double your salary is just too hard to resist)! 

John Derosier and his office have made millions of dollars on the backs of hard working, innocent Americans. I never thought of overtime this way until I married my beautiful wife only a year ago. I’ve listened to her stories of struggle as a single mother. How one ticket could literally bury a person who struggles in poverty to feed their children. They are then forced to choose between paying a ticket or a light bill! Lose your lights or be buried under tickets that continue to pile up until you have no other recourse than to sit in jail or make payments for years! Why you ask? For money!!!! 

There is no requirement as to the location of these detail. The DA will lie to you and say that the LACE detail is to reduce crashes, however, police officers write the overwhelming majority of tickets in only a few “speed trap ” areas. If your reading this and you have ever received a ticket with a little pink sticker on it, I bet my next paycheck that you either received the ticket near the I-10 or I-210 bridges, I-10 between the 210 interchange and Hwy 171 or I-10 near the Pete Maneana exit to Westlake. As a matter of fact, the Trooper who “investigated me” was even known for working lace in that exact spot. However, he used a car that didn’t have a video recorder, as did most detectives and supervisors! So, I’m sure he will get away with his indiscretions. 

Would you like to guess why we did that in those locations? Because it was easy. Troopers get the required amount of tickets quick, steal your money, then watch movies on the side of the road. Which is exactly what I did and what I was arrested for (and I should have been arrested for)! 

A thorough and detailed investigation into EVERY Trooper in the entire state over the life of the LACE program will prove that I was far from the only offender. In fact, it is literally a common practice. A practice literally taught to me as a rookie Trooper. As a Trooper, you are taught to stop working an hour or two before shift! Every trooper worth his salt will tell you that they heard the phrase, “a good trooper is in his driveway by 3”! You better not break this rule and start making traffic stops after 3! If you did, you would be verbally reprimanded by your supervisors and your peers! 

The LACE program is the program with the spotlight, however, it is absolutely not the only program in existence. Take the overtime DWI detail for instance. Did you know that the DAs office pays police officers overtime to sit at DWI checkpoints? They don’t have to even show an arrest. They get to show up and participate a little bit then go home with your money. Of course, they say they are looking for insurance and other violations, but they specifically call it the DWI detail. As many as 20 cops will show up to these details and collect money then go home without breaking a sweat!! 

How about the seat belt detail?!? Bet you never heard of that one! Same story, you must get 2 seat belt tickets an hour to earn your overtime. The crappy thing, again, is, no one sits in areas high in crash statistics….they sit in Moss Bluff or Lake Charles or Westlake so they can catch you driving out of McDonald’s without your seat belt on! It’s literally the only way to even catch a seat belt violator because they are going slow enough for you to see! 

I know that I risk a backlash from the DA and the “system”, but it’s worth it to me! I can imagine “my brothers in blue ” will be quite upset with me, none of whom were standing in line behind me to admit their wrong doing while I was forfeiting my rights and taking my lick!

I can only tell you that I am truly sorry for being a part of a system that has failed you! I am truly sorry for allowing greed to control my actions as a person who was supposed to protect you from people like that! Who knows, maybe they silence me! Maybe you are ok with them sacrificing me as tribute to cover up a massive injustice! Or, maybe you say enough is enough and demand real change! 

I know I’ve typed a lot, and I have so much more! Maybe I will bore you more in the future! However, I urge you to share this story. Demand your constitutional rights be defended!

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The latest news coming out of Lake Charles regarding one of four state troopers charged with malfeasance and 74 counts of injuring public records is the defense offered up by his attorney, the same attorney who loves to file SLAPP lawsuits against a Welsh city alderman.

Oh, and there’s the revelation that former State Trooper Jimmy Rogers, who resigned in the middle of a Louisiana State Police (LSP) internal affairs investigation, still holds—or recently held—a commission from the DEQUINCY POLICE DEPARTMENT.

Rogers attempted to return to LSP when he sent an email to Troop D Commander Benny Broussard on March 7 in which he (a) claimed he had resigned in “good standing,” and (b) said he would like to return to his former job. Ironically, in that email he said, “I was clear (sic) of every claim except altering times on tickets. I am guilty of writing times on tickets later than the stop actually was.”

Yeah, well, actually, those altered tickets are exactly what those 74 felony counts are all about and about which Calcasieu Parish DISTRICT ATTORNEY John DeRosier says he is “in the process of preparing formal charges.”

DeRosier said he was “going to assume that there’s a financial benefit” to Rogers’s practice of jotting an incorrect time on all those tickets ostensibly written while working Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) patrol. LACE is a cooperative program in which local district attorneys pay state police for beefed-up patrol to catch traffic offenders.

The financial benefit to Rogers, at least theoretically, would be that he wrote his tickets early in his shift but put later times to make it appear he worked his entire shift when in reality, he would go home early after writing a few tickets. DeRosier might be taking that offense a little personally since it is his office that pays for those hours that Rogers is accused of not working.

But no matter. Rogers apparently has this captivating voice that should be sufficient to beat the rap. You see, according to his attorney, Ron Richard, Rogers is a man “who probably sang the national anthem at more events in this town than anyone else” and is confident “both in himself and his faith in God that he will be vindicated and all will be made right in the end.”

Good to know. But…but…but Rogers put it in writing back on March 7 that he was guilty of falsifying the times. Which brings up the obvious question: Will Richard have him sing the national anthem on the stand during his trial? Apparently, Richard thinks that is important.

This is the same attorney who filed a so-called SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation or, if you will, frivolous or harassment) LAWSUIT against Welsh Alderman Jacob Colby Perry on behalf of four separate clients—the Welsh mayor, her daughter, her son, and the town’s police chief.

They lost and had to pay Perry’s legal fees of some $16,000.

If convicted, Rogers could be facing up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000—on each count.

Now, Dequincy, about that Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement commission you issued to Rogers when you hired him as a reserve police officer….

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