Running Out of Eyes
Louisiana, you’re embarrassing me. The stereotypes keep getting reinforced.
The story that there were complaints about how some of the Baton Rouge police go about their duties has been percolating in the background for a few weeks, and is finally bubbling to the surface. From theadvocate.com:
Complaints by two visiting law-enforcement agencies against the Police Department involve the use of force as well as unprofessional language and conduct, Chief Jeff LeDuff said Monday.
In other times and circumstances, a publicized investigation into another police department might have helped the New Orleans Police Department. Moving the spotlight certainly shows that they aren’t the only ones with problems in the ranks. Big Badge Fever is not limited to dumber-than-rocks officers on Bourbon Street.
Unfortunately, it's growing harder to separate the problems in New Orleans from Louisiana. Things are so bad for the NOPD now, it doesn't even matter whether the officers who hit Mr. Davis were racially motivated or not. That damage was done the minute the story was run with a description of every participant's "color". As a result, even his strong statement that racism was not a factor may be lost in the wider storm. As his lawyer said,
"I know there is a big temptation to go there, but my client firmly believes that is not what is involved here," Bruno said in an interview
No, the story unfolding out of Baton Rouge hinting at wider police problems in Louisiana does nothing to erase the stigma specific to the Big Easy. Combined with ongoing investigations and current events, in fact, it may make things worse.
It certainly doesn’t bring back residents, it doesn’t attract business, and it further smears the reputations of those many officers who have been (and are still!) doing an excellent job.
As an NOPD friend recently said to me,
“Another black eye – and we’re running out of eyes.”