BATON ROUGE, La. – February 12, 2021 – Since 2017, my administration has put the reform of the Baton Rouge Police Department at the forefront of the change we seek to make in our community. Under the leadership of Chief Murphy Paul, great strides have been made to ensure BRPD employs the best practices and policies of a 21st century department.
Recently, The Advocate released an article that included a study and review of BRPD’s policy and use of K-9s in our community. The data presented illustrates an inequity of utilization based on age and race of the suspect. I embrace this journalistic work in our process to continue improving our department and shining light on areas of improvement.
To that end, I would like the public to know the policy concerning the use of K-9 officers was changed in late 2019. This change was precipitated by a conversation with the Chief’s Advisory Council. The change in policy includes mandatory use of body-worn cameras by K-9 officers and a review of all uses of K-9 officers. The public has been open and honest with Chief Paul about its interaction with the Baton Rouge Police Department. We need to ensure the trust of the public is earned and maintained. The practice of using K-9 Units in Baton Rouge must be accountable and acceptable. This necessity is heightened even more when a juvenile is involved. Therefore, I have directed Chief Paul to revise our policy so the pursuit of juveniles with dogs is discontinued for mere flight and when there is no immediate threat at hand.
In our quest for an equitable community, the work of our police is important and appreciated. However, we must ensure we do our best to balance the scales concerning the interactions and experiences that African-Americans encounter with our police. This is done through continued policy change, training and education.