Repairing the Image of the Lafayette Police Department

   

Citizens for a New Louisiana again appeared before the Lafayette Fire & Police Civil Service Board on September 14, 2022 looking for action to be taken concerning a petition filed in June 2021 and a supplemental petition filed in November of 2021. The nature of that petition was to compel the Board to utilize the authority granted to them pursuant to state law. Their power is to investigate issues concerning the administration of personnel, particularly the discriminatory and arbitrary practices within the Lafayette Police Department. Newly appointed Board member, Kenneth Boudreaux, commented to the effect that the matter needs to terminate because it is ‘tarnishing’ the image of officers. Board member, Christina Olivier, seemed to side with Boudreaux on dismissing the issue. Others commented that you cannot discipline a police chief who is no longer employed. All of these excuses overlook the larger systematic failure.

Acting Chief of Police Monte Potier and his Assistant Terrance Olivier both spoke with regards to the matter. At one point it was stated that the Chief of Police could unilaterally decide which general orders he wished to follow or ignore. That is exactly the point! That has been the crux of our complaint from the beginning. Certain officers were being investigated and disciplined, while complaints against other officers were ignored, shielding them from exposure. So much for there being a uniform system of discipline and procedural due process for police officers.

In a scheduled meeting with Mr. Olivier to discuss the matter further, Citizens for a New Louisiana was advised that there were no investigations initially conducted into either of the two allegations contained in our complaint against Michael Brown, nor the allegation against Todd Alcorn. Olivier indicated that much of the responsibility for these failures to investigate were a result of Chief Glover’s use of discretion and unfamiliarity with agency protocol and state law. Olivier indicated that, in his short tenure, Interim Chief of Police Wayne Griffin made inquiries into how these matters were handled.

Assistant Chief of Police, Terrance Olivier, also happens to be the husband of Police and Fire Civil Service Board member Christina Olivier. Again, for now no action was taken by the Board.

What’s broken with the LPD?

According to a public record entitled “Lafayette Police Department – 2021 Goals and Objectives” one of the many goals outlined for/by former Chief Thomas Glover was “Social Media Image Makeover Campaign for the LPD.” This is an interesting priority for a newly appointed Chief. In his December 2020 interview Glover was asked by Mayor-President Josh Guillory, Chief Administrative Officer Cydra Wingerter, and Chief of Staff Robert Benoit, “What’s broken with the LPD?” According to notes from that interview, Glover spoke about the “perception of LPD and relationship with community,” “needs tweaking,” and “improv(ing) [police] morale.” While social media could be a vehicle for changing the “perception” of the LPD in the public, was that really the most pressing objective?

Issues concerning morale were discussed with Glover in multiple meetings following his probationary appointment as Chief of Police. One such discussion took place in a January 18, 2021 confidential meeting with officers. According to the meeting notes there was talk that Capt. (Michael) Brown “wants Terrance’s position as Asst. to Chief – he’s given gifts to Glover – ‘Cheated and Stole’ – shake down of landlord recently – matter went to Chief but not investigated.” Just weeks into his administration, it was well known that Glover had not investigated the complaint against Brown, despite many later misrepresentations before the Civil Service Board and to members of the City Council that an investigation had been conducted.

The issue of morale was discussed again in an August 5, 2021 confidential complaint meeting. Notes from that meeting indicate that “97% of officers are morale issue” and they “feel like they can’t do their jobs.” During that meeting, Brown was discussed again in connection with Marvin Martin. The notation reads “fail to act on Mike Brown and Marvin Martin = malfeasance.” According to public record, Martin was investigated in April of 2021 for excessive force with the allegations being sustained and the officer resigning. Martin has since been charged criminally by the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s office and a civil suit filed against Martin has been settled. How much did that cost the taxpayers?

Administrative Failures

Despite the complaint filed by Citizens for a New Louisiana with the Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service in June of 2021 it would be several more months before any “inquiry” (to borrow a word from Glover) was made into the allegations against Brown. In fact, on September 30, 2021 Citizens for a New Louisiana was allowed to conduct an in-camera inspection to determine whether an investigation had taken place. At that time, we were provided with an “investigative file” which led to more questions than answers. That file contained a body worn camera video with a date stamp of November 12, 2020, despite the complainant alleging the actions of Brown occurred in December of 2020. We know now that the in camera inspection was a ruse and information presented as being part of the investigation file was in fact never reviewed or investigated as part of the inquiry/investigation. In the weeks leading up to our September 30 inspection there were meetings already taking place questioning whether Glover had lied in his testimony before Civil Service.

In a September 13, 2021 meeting between Glover, Wingerter, and Human Resource Director Rick Zeno, a notation indicates a “review Fire & Police audio/transcription with Glover RE Mike Brown” and a review of “Glover email response to Councilman Andy Naquin, dated Sept 17 at 1:159 pm: “I ordered and internal inv into this on my 8th day of work. Saw a video from another officer’s body camera disproving everything in the complaint…”

In a September 20, 2021 confidential meeting between former Internal Affairs head Chasity Arwood, Wingerter, Zeno, and City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan, Arwood refuted the testimony provided by Glover to the Fire and Police Civil Service Board. According to the notes, Arwood said no shift level investigation was conducted and it was a misrepresentation to say that the complaint was referred to her for investigation. Arwood indicated that the body worn camera footage was not reviewed by IA. Arwood also indicated that as it pertained to the Brown extortion complaint, “no administrative investigation [was] called,” it was “only referred to criminal investigation at DA” and the “IA and criminal investigation should have been done hand-in-hand.”

More Investigations Pending

According to the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s office, Brown is still under investigation related to the allegations stemming from an April 7, 2021 complaint filed against him. But are there more matters under investigation? Responses received to recent public records request appears to indicate so.

On July 19, 2022 a subject was arrested in Lafayette for operating a vehicle while intoxicated following a vehicle crash on Willow Street. The arresting officer was Tyler Green. As part of our investigation we sought e-mail communications between Green and his supervisor on the night in question through a series of public records request we initiated on July 27, 2022. [NOTE: Remember when the unsalaried attorney of Josh Guillory, Greg Logan, stated on KPEL earlier last week that we had not submitted any public records request since June?] LCG responded to our request through their attorney that “there are two emails responsive to the request; however, those emails are evidence in an active administrative investigation. As such, they are protected from disclosure at this time.What is contained in those e-mails?

What we were able to obtain (for free on September 9th) was an offense report for the incident. According to the report, Green made an arrest of the subject for OWI and also learned of an outstanding warrant commanding the subject to be taken into custody to serve a 31-day jail sentence. As is customary, the subject was brought to a local hospital for treatment and clearance for incarceration. Except the subject was never booked into the LPCC. Instead, she was ordered released by Major Mike Brown. It is believed that Mike Brown was off-duty when he ordered the release of the subject from police custody.

There are occasional situations where subjects are released from custody while obtaining treatment at a hospital. This is sometimes a matter of a weighing the cost versus benefit of having an officer guarding a prisoner at the hospital instead of being available in the community. However, Louisiana law provides an avenue for officers to utilize in these situations. The statute provides that hospitals provide notice to law enforcement agencies before discharging a wanted person when the agency so request in writing. According to the absence of records responsive to our request, this does not appear to have been done.

The government doesn’t like competition

While the alleged administrative priority was to “remake” the image of the LPD, Glover may have been more focused on protecting a clique within the department. During the reign of Glover there are several documented occasions of internal and criminal investigations not occurring. During the same time discipline was carried out against members of the Police Association who were actually engaged in improving the image of the LPD through social media. An area which the administration itself has all but admitted it was failing and was seeking to “makeover” the image of the LPD.

Citizens for a New Louisiana previously reported on the discipline of former President of the Police Association of Lafayette, David Stanley. Stanley was transferred and suspended following an investigation into two social media posts that were made by the Police Association of Lafayette. During Stanley’s Civil Service Hearing, fellow LPD Sergeant Scott Rummel testified: “We wanted to put it out to the public that LPD officers were doing a good job making arrests and trying to publicize that a little bit, trying to give some type of attaboy or acclimation [sic] to those officers.”

In his testimony, Stanley indicated that the motivation of the post in question and others indicating a desire to keep the public informed of work being performed by law enforcement agencies. Stanley states: “…the union, as an entity, felt that there was a real concern in the community to build trust and show our community what we were doing and how we were — how we were out there doing — you know, doing our jobs, the City was very effective in what I believe they were trying to accomplish in shutting down the free speech of the union.” Since this time, Stanley has filed suit against Lafayette City-Parish Government, former Chief Scott Morgan, Thomas Glover, Wayne Griffin, and acting Chief Monte Potier. Additionally, the Louisiana Legislature has taken action to strengthen the whistleblower protections of police officers.

However, instead of improving public perception of the department and keeping citizens abreast of criminal activity, recent changes are depriving the public of information. The reporting system has been changed, keeping citizens from easily learning about the dangers and criminal activity in the community. Additional obstacles are being erected to obtaining public records or outright concealment, while openly ‘vows of transparency‘ are being uttered. Considering the timeline… perhaps running down the image of the Lafayette Police Department was the intended outcome all along. Ask yourself what and who will gain from making the Lafayette Police Department appear incompetent or ineffective. And why, after over a year, little action has been taken to address the clear issues contained within our complaint.

###

"Keep doing what you're doing."

That's the number one thing people tell us: every issue, every time. The truth is, in spite of our extremely limited resources, we have become the most accomplished and successful government transparency and accountability organization in the entire state. Find out more about who we are and the great things we've been able to accomplish for small businesses and regular citizens like you, right here in Louisiana.

More About Us

More options for your involvement

Become a Member Donate Tax-Deductable Gifts

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This