POSTED: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 4:58pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 10:35am
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Former Police Chief Dewayne White was clearly surprised by being fired.
His lawyer, Jill Craft, did most of the talking at a press conference held Thursday, but they made it very clear they're going to fight to get White made chief again.
Craft claims the former chief and Mayor Kip Holden had been fighting for months, and it all started in Summer of 2012 when the chief transferred the police union president.
"He transferred the union president from a position with almost non-existent duties to one that required work,” stated Craft.
That's when the former chief says the problems started. According to White, the mayor issued a direct order to him, telling him he could make no personnell decisions, transfer or discipline officers without running it through the mayor's office. Chief White claims the mayor then told him he could not put any of these issues into writing because it would then make it public record.
"The department essentially ceased functioning as an independent, separate body and began functioning, frankly, as a micro-managed organ within city-parish government."
The chief heard rumors about himself being fired about three weeks ago and subsequently hired attorney Jill Craft to offer out an olive branch to the mayor's office.
"The chief indicated at that time, ‘If the mayor doesn't want me in that position, then I'll resign, but let's do it the right way – let’s not have dissension.’"
Craft said the Mayor's Office didn't want White to quit at the time. So when he got a termination letter on Wednesday, he was shocked.
The letter states that he was fired because of a substantial disagreement with the direction of the department; it went onto say that the police union could have forced Kip Holden's hand.
"The Chief of Police needs to function as the Chief of Police. He needs to be unfettered with political considerations. He needs to be serving the needs of this city, not the political interests of anybody else.”
White's attorney said even after the ordeal is through, the former chief still wants his job back.
"I think that my client’s only desire is to continue to serve the people of Baton Rouge. If that doesn't happen, then we'll have to continue to examine our options at that time."
White hopes to appeal the mayor's decision at a hearing on February 18. Both White and his lawyer want it to be a public meeting that anyone can attend.
NBC33 did attempt to contact Mayor Holden for a comment on this ongoing issue. Holden said simply, he will not comment on this because it's a 'personnel matter.'