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Louisiana State Police Supt. Col. Mike Edmonson speaks during an interview Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at LSP headquarters. 

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY TRAVIS SPRADLING

I approved Col. Mike Edmonson’s living arrangements. After reading several articles by the Advocate, including Sunday's front-page banner headline “State Police slammed for insider perks,” I am compelled to share what I know about the circumstances surrounding Edmonson’s living arrangement and the house built by taxpayer dollars over a decade ago at our State Police headquarters.

Louisiana State Police is an honorable organization, populated by men and women who selflessly give of themselves to protect the rest of us. They are a “thin blue line” that boldly stand against crime and chaos. They are headquartered in Baton Rouge across the street from Independence Park's soccer fields. On the property, along with office buildings, GOHSEP, barracks, a cafeteria, training facilities, and the DMV, sits a nondescript ranch house built over a decade ago by our tax dollars to house the superintendent.

In 2008, while I was leading the transition for Governor Bobby Jindal, readying myself to be his chief of staff, I approved Edmonson moving his family into this house. It’s a decision I stand by today as in the best interest of not only the taxpayers of Louisiana but also the safety and security of the families of Louisiana. Our State Police are our most effective first responders to almost every emergency, be it hurricanes or floods, hostage situations or police shootings. I wanted our superintendent of State Police to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to every emergency facing our people. That’s why I decided it best for Edmonson to live at the State Police headquarters in a house built by taxpayers.

It seems that some believe it would be better for this house to sit empty and the superintendent to live elsewhere. I am eager to hear their reasons why this would be better for the people of our state and the agency the superintendent is tasked to lead. Until these accusers make their case, I remain unconvinced that leaving this house vacant is a better use of taxpayer dollars.

Having a superintendent available on the premises 24/7 to respond to any and every emergency is good for our state and our public safety. And in my experience, through over a dozen federally declared disasters, four hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, shootings, an oil spill and hostage situations, Mike Edmonson was available, no matter the hour, the day, the time, to courteously and loyally serve the people of Louisiana. I am grateful to him and the men and women of the State Police for their sacrificial service.

Timmy Teepell

former chief of staff, Governor's Office

Baton Rouge