I was having a meal at one of our local Piccadilly restaurants a few Sundays ago, and I saw three Baton Rouge Police Department officers sitting at a table near mine. I did what I have tried to do through the years: I walked over, thanked them for their service and reached for their receipts, telling them I wanted to show my appreciation and pay for their meals. I’m 80 years old, so the years have afforded me time to do this often.
The next day, I read about a trial that involved a raid on a Baton Rouge home. A few ounces of marijuana was found, no charges were filed and no arrests made, but one of the occupants had his teeth knocked out, his mouth blooded and glass in his arm. The officers also had all the occupants in the residence remove their clothes so they could do body searches. For those who want a more graphic account of what happened, the article, written by Maya Lau, appeared in the March 9 edition of The Advocate.
A few days later, there was an article written by Joe Gyan Jr., also with The Advocate. In his instance, a WBRZ television reporter filed a federal lawsuit after he was strip-searched, forced to watch a prison rape video and detained for 10 hours because he snapped a photo of a crime scene, even though the reporter had a constitutional right to record officers performing their duties in a public space.
I have been aware that the rest of the country has been experiencing instances similar to these, but I mainly thought our department remained above these occurrences, and that we here in Baton Rouge had something special. I have always been so proud of our BRPD. Now, I’m wondering, whose meals did I pay for, and who did I compliment for their service? Was it one of these officers?
I know they represent a minority in the force, but a minority is too many when they give the police force an undeserved black eye. Those in this category should be released from service and replaced with men and women who will serve with pride and dignity.
Cynthia A. Litz