An applicant for Baton Rouge police chief ruled ineligible to take the chief’s exam is challenging the decision, saying she took the test more than 20 years ago and passed it.

Isabelle Gilmore said she received a letter from the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board on April 24 saying she failed to meet the minimum qualifications to take the test.

Gilmore is scheduled for an appeal hearing at the board’s May 16 meeting.

Gilmore, 62, served in the Baton Rouge Police Department from 1977 to 1993. She now works as a high school teacher in Baker.

Gilmore said she passed the exam in September 1991 with a score of 76 percent and was interviewed by then-East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Tom Ed McHugh before Greg Phares was named Baton Rouge police chief.

“If I was qualified in 1991 to take the test and took the test, why am I disqualified now?” Gilmore asked.

Sgt. Bryan Taylor, the board’s chairman, said qualifications to take the test changed in March 1992.

Taylor said the prior qualifications to take the testcalled for a high school diploma or General Educational Development certificate; completion of an FBI National Academy course and college-level course work in police administration and criminology; and either 10 years of “progressively responsible experience” in law enforcement and crime prevention work or any similar work or experience deemed sufficient by the board.

Applicants now must meet one of three criteria to qualify, according to the Office of State Examiner:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree in business, public administration or a related curriculum with at least 10 years of “progressively responsible experience” in law enforcement, at least two of which include administrative or supervisory responsibilities.
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree in criminal justice, police administration or other law enforcement curriculum and at least 10 years of “progressively responsible experience” in law enforcement.
  • Have a high school diploma or a GED certificate and 12 years of “progressively responsible experience” in law enforcement, including four years as a supervisor.

Gilmore said she still is qualified to take the exam, regardless of the change. She said she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and took courses in criminology and similar fields.

But Taylor said Gilmore’s application did not show any supervisory experience.

“She was using the fact that she was in the detective division for a while as a supervisory responsibility,” Taylor said. “That is not considered supervisory responsibility.”

Gilmore said she at one point headed the department’s alarm enforcement division, but wasn’t sure if it was for two years, so she left it off her application.

Gilmore, who retired as a corporal, also said she at times served as an acting sergeant in uniform patrol, meaning she filled in for other sergeants when they were absent.

“She will be able to explain herself,” Taylor said of Gilmore’s appeal. “She can’t give us things after the fact because the deadline has passed.”

Advocate staff writer Jim Mustian contributed to this report.