A 12-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department was recently suspended and is now under criminal investigation after accusations that he had sex while on duty, police said.
Cpl. Michael Edwards was suspended without pay for 80 days — from Oct. 7 to Dec. 25 — after an internal affairs investigation, according to department records. Police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. said a criminal investigation has been launched into Edwards' conduct related to the findings of the internal affairs investigation.
Coppola said the woman involved with the alleged sexual encounters filed a formal complaint against Edwards with the department on July 4. Her name was redacted from the report.
She told police that she connected with Edwards through a dating website and met him July 1, according to internal affairs records. That evening Edwards “spent hours of (his) shift sitting in a parking lot on Sherwood Forest Boulevard” with the woman, though he would also leave and answer calls for service during that time, according to a letter from Interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam to Edwards notifying him of the investigation's outcome.
Edwards and the woman had dinner at a local restaurant and then went to another parking lot where they “had sexual relations while (Edwards was) on duty and dressed in (his) police uniform,” Dunnam's letter says. “The sexual encounter occurred outside … in the view of the public.”
Edwards admitted to those allegations when interviewed by internal affairs investigators, according to the letter.
During a phone interview Wednesday, Edwards declined to comment on the sexual relations claim but said he did meet up with “a female who I knew for a few days” while on duty. He said that the accusations against him have been blown out of proportion because the woman involved was unhappy when he ended their relationship, and she retaliated by filing the formal complaint.
“She started saying, 'I love you,' gave me a key to her house … Then I cut it off and she got mad and took a little something and blew it up,” he said. “This was a one time thing.”
Edwards said meeting up with people while on duty is nothing out of the ordinary.
“I’m not aware that you can’t,” he said. “I’ve never known anybody to not do it. We do get a lunch break.”
The woman also told police that Edwards met her the following two nights and again responded to several calls during their encounters, according to internal affairs records. She said Edwards failed to respond to some calls and wrote a false report, but Edwards denied those claims, and investigators found no indication that he failed to respond to a call or that he made a false report, according to the letter.
Overall the complaint — which accused Edwards of violating department policies for conduct unbecoming to a law enforcement officer and other reasons — was sustained following the internal affairs investigation, leading to Edwards’ suspension.
“Every member of the department, whether on or off duty, in an official capacity, must conduct himself at all times in such a manner as to set a good example for others with whom he may come in contact,” the letter says, citing department policy. “He shall in no way, through actions or neglect, bring dishonor or disgrace upon himself or the Baton Rouge Police Department.”
According to Police Department records, Edwards was previously suspended without pay for one day in 2007 for yelling at Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies who issued a traffic citation to his girlfriend.
His file also contains several training certifications and letters of commendation for his excellent conduct, including a 2010 letter stating he had been nominated for a police officer of the year award from the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police. Another 2010 letter also says he was nominated for a certificate of commendation for his involvement in a police chase that ended in an arrest.
Edwards completed the police academy training and became an officer in 2005, having served with the department ever since.