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EBR Mayor Sharon Weston Broome speaks at a flood reflection/commemoration service at the Living Faith Christian Center on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.

Advocate photo by CAROLINE OURSO

While 11 candidates submitted applications to become the next chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department by this week's deadline, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome earlier this month abandoned her pledge to conduct a national search for the job, citing the complications of the city's civil service restrictions.  

Both during her campaign last fall and after she took office at the beginning of the year, Broome repeatedly stated she would hold a national search to replace then-Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. But the promise to appoint a new chief stalled early on, turning into a monthslong standoff between Broome and Dabadie, who could not be fired without cause because his job is protected by state civil service laws.

That standoff eventually ended late last month, with Dabadie announcing his retirement.

But a national search for Dabadie's replacement never happened, hampered by the same rules that had kept the chief in place for months. 

Broome will now have to make her hire from a group of 11 or fewer applicants.

The Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board confirmed Wednesday that it has received 11 applications for the police chief job. But those applicants still have to be reviewed at a Sept. 14 meeting to determine if they meet the necessary requirements. Then, they will take an Oct. 10 exam. Those who pass the exam with a score of 75 percent or more will be sent to Broome's office for review.

A board official said the names of applicants would be released on Thursday. 

In an interview with The Advocate in January, Broome said she would "play a very significant role in making the case" for national applicants to apply for the police chief position. She said she would look for people attracted to a challenge and sell them on coming to Baton Rouge.

But on Wednesday, Broome's administration acknowledged this kind of process did not take place.

Interim Chief Administrative Officer James Llorens said he and the mayor met at the beginning of this month with James Baker, the advocacy director for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Local governments can hire IACP to conduct their police chief searches and to consult on other issues.

Baker advised the Baton Rouge leaders that qualified police applicants from other states would be turned off by the requirement that they take an exam to show they are qualified for the BRPD chief job, Llorens said. And the Civil Service system that makes it difficult for chiefs to promote officers into leadership positions for reasons aside from seniority would make the top job even less attractive, Baker told them.

"After looking at the restrictions imposed on making it attractive to bring someone in on a national basis and the timeline involved in it, we thought we would go with the structure that we have," Llorens said Wednesday. "And I believe that we will still get some qualified candidates."

Broome is considering a search committee to help her review the applications and exam scores once she receives them, Llorens said.

Asked whether Broome's administration ramped up its local recruiting efforts for the BRPD job in lieu of a national search, Llorens said they didn't. Local applicants were already aware of the job, he said.

The possibility a national search could be hampered by the civil service rules has previously been raised, including by state Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, who worked on Broome's campaign and led her transition committee on public safety. During the recent legislative session, James brought forward bills to tweak the state civil service rules that apply to Baton Rouge, including a bill that would strip the civil service protections for the BRPD chief's job. The bill never made it out of committee.

Earlier this year, former New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas told The Advocate that having a civil service system in a city the size of Baton Rouge was "a relic of an older time that restricts the ability of the mayor to do a strong national search."

But, at the time, Broome still expressed optimism about her ability to recruit national candidates. 

"I don't see that as a threat or an obstruction necessarily for attracting a candidate," Broome said about Baton Rouge's civil service requirements. "Even with the constraints of a civil service system for the police, there's still the ability for the leader to create an environment where goals for the department are very clear and concise."

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​