Former Police Chief Carl Dabadie didn't know an officer on administrative leave was working extra duty for a bank while under investigation for a fatal shooting, interim chief Jonny Dunnam said Wednesday.
The Metro Council called on the Baton Rouge Police Department to explain what Dunnam has called a "loophole" in its policy.
Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks joined a growing number of local leaders Wednesday calling f…
He and the union representative said there is a distinction between officers wearing a uniform and carrying a commission and merely scheduling those shifts and filling out paperwork, as Blane Salamoni did for Whitney Bank.
However, others were frustrated that Salamoni was apparently able to profit from his position as an officer while under investigation by the state Attorney General.
"We need to be very careful of the message we're sending to the world … because the message to the world is 'I can kill someone and still make money,' or at least, that's the perception," said council member LaMont Cole.
Officers are allowed to work up to 16 hours per day, and after their department shifts are finished, they can contract with private businesses to work what's known as extra duty, for which they are paid a minimum of $30 per hour, Dunnam explained.
However, officers may also be paid for overseeing those arrangements, though the set-up is more fluid.
BRPD Union President Bryan Taylor compared the latter to a pilot who is put on leave and schedules flights rather than flying planes himself.
Contracts with private businesses are between the officer and the company. They must report some data like hours worked so as not to become too fatigued for duty, but not other information like pay, Dunnam explained.
Police can't work in some places like bars and casinos, so the chief has to sign off on all new contracts, but then they're handled through an extra duty office, which had been led by a civilian with 17 years experience who had been trained to segregate administrative and regular extra duty, Dunnam said.
Dabadie didn't know Salamoni was still working for the bank until the media began requesting his extra duty paperwork, Dunnam said.
The acting chief acknowledged the sense of impropriety and said the department last month stopped allowing officers on administrative leave to work administrative extra duty. They've also put a sergeant over the extra duty office.
But for some, it appeared to be too little, too late.
It undermines public trust when residents see police "bending" the rules or indicating that "some officers on the force feel like the rules don't apply to them," said Jennifer Harding of the Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge.
The lack of transparency and apparent apathy have left a stench of dereliction of duty around city hall, Rouge Collection publisher Gary Chambers added.
Wearing a shirt emblazoned with the hashtag "#FireSalamoni," Chambers called the officer "a disgrace to the badge."
Taylor defended Salamoni, several times repeating that in the eyes of the law, he is still innocent of any wrongdoing.
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While previous council meetings saw members of the public tossed for speaking out of turn or off-topic during public debate, no one was escorted out of chambers Wednesday. Unlike in previous meetings helmed by Pro Tem Scott Wilson, on Wednesday Donna Collins-Lewis wielded the gavel.
Collins-Lewis was among the voices calling for Salamoni's dismissal, saying he would qualify for "actions unbecoming of an officer."
She also once again pleaded with the AG's office to complete their investigation so the city can heal.