The Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board denied an appeal Thursday from a former Baton Rouge police officer ruled ineligible to take the police chief’s exam for not meeting the minimum qualifications.
The vote followed an emotional appeal by Isabelle Gilmore, who contended the requirements were not clearly stated and that she was more than qualified to take the test given her education and law enforcement experience.
“If you all don’t let me take this test, that’s alright too,” Gilmore said. “My life has been about struggle, but I have overcome adversities all my life, including working my way through the Police Department.”
Applicants vying to succeed fired Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White will take a two-part exam Wednesday at the Baton Rouge River Center. Provisional Chief Carl Dabadie is among the 16 applicants expected to take the test.
Gilmore, 62, served as a police officer from 1977 to 1993 and passed the chief’s exam in 1991. But the qualifications changed in 1992, and the board found Gilmore lacked the supervisory experience required for applicants who do not have a degree in criminal justice.
“It may be a technicality, but it’s what we’re bound by,” board member Julie Cherry said.
Board attorney Charlie Cusimano said the Office of State Examiner would not allow an underqualified applicant to take the exam.
“There are certain requirements that have to be met,” Cusimano said. “I don’t think the application had anything in it about a supervisory position, and that’s why it was declined.”
The board found Gilmore had a degree in business and more than 10 years on the force. But because her degree was not in criminal justice, she was required to have served in a supervisory role as well.
“If this is the way it is, it needs to be examined,” said Gilmore’s attorney, Anthony Long.
Long said he found it ridiculous that someone who lacked a college degree but has 12 years of law enforcement experience — including four years in a supervisory role — qualifies to take the exam.
“A person who can’t even get into college can be your police chief,” Long said. “This is a joke.”
Board Chairman Bryan Taylor, who recused himself from the vote because he has applied to be police chief, noted the board had to disregard emotions and follow the law.
Cusimano said he would discuss clarifying the qualifications with the Office of State Examiner.
The civil service board also voted to extend Dabadie’s interim appointment an additional 90 days.