Interim BRPD chief: Education, communication skills necessary for officers

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POSTED: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 4:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 11:30am

The Baton Rouge Police Department has a lot it wants to accomplish. One of its biggest priorities is the simplest: talking to the people it serves.

At a forum hosted by Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker on Tuesday, Interim Chief Carl Dabadie was joined by Sgt. Herbert "Tweety" Anny, the leader of the BRAVE program, and Sgt. Don Stone, who heads up the local branch of Crimestoppers. They each spoke about an aspect of where local law enforcement stands and where it is headed.

"You know, I go to a lot of community meetings," Dabadie said, "where we're accused of not being a part of the community, that there's a disconnect between law enforcement and the community. The only way I know how to fix that is to get in the community and start talking, and to reform that bond." 

All three said that the fastest way to reduce crime is to form stronger partnerships with people who live in dangerous neighborhoods.

"If we can form a trust between my officers and the community," Dabadie told the audience, "you're much more ready to pick up that phone and give us a call and say, 'hey, I know who did this and he's over there.'"

With an opportunity to speak directly to the head of the police department, a couple of attendees talked about ways they thought officers could help them and problems they experienced.

One woman recalled a story about who friend whose home was burglarized, "and (the responding officer) said, 'well, you gonna have to give me your DNA so I can make sure this is not nobody who didn't come in your window.' And I thought that was kind of strange."

Dabadie asked the woman for the name of the officer in question. "I don't know the case," he told her. "I'd need to read the file, to see what happened, but that doesn't sound right."

Wicker asked Dabadie, if he were to be named the permanent chief, what he would do to reduce the number of complaints filed regarding insensitivity by officers, which has been a problem in recent years. Dabadie responded that some of his officers either do not understand how to work with the community, or give that aspect of their jobs too low a value.

"It's a lack of education, it's a lack of knowledge, it's a lack of communicating with each other," he stated.

Wicker asked Anny about rumors that the BRAVE program had begun operations in the 70802 zip code. BRAVE is a joint venture between the police department, East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, and District Attorney's Office. It received a $1.5 million grant in 2012 to provide a community-level approach to reducing crime in the 70805 zip code.

"70802 is not being neglected," Anny said, "but the chief is working on a proposal to get a team dedicated, to incorporate 70802 also."

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