East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, left, and Baton Rouge Police Dept. Chief Carl Dabadie, Jr., embrace, after each addressed Texas Brotherhood Ride participants and family members of Baton Rouge law enforcement officers slain last summer, at ceremony Friday, July 14, 2017 at BRPD headquarters.


Last year brought unwelcome and tragic attention to Baton Rouge, as the police-involved shooting of Alton Sterling Jr. in July sparked protests. Within days, a deeply troubled man named Gavin Long ambushed officers in the city, killing three and wounding three others. Flooding devastated the greater Baton Rouge area in that August.

And all that on Carl Dabadie’s watch.

The lifelong officer, Baton Rouge’s city police chief since 2013, announced his retirement Monday, ending a half year of service under a new mayor, Sharon Weston Broome, who campaigned on a promise to replace him.

Broome vowed to conduct a national search for a new chief. We wish her the best, as the shocks to the city in 2016 have been followed by a troubling rise in homicides and in opioid overdoses — the latest plague for the community.

For the longer term, Baton Rouge ought to avoid the problem of a police chief out of sync with his mayor, as Dabadie has been in the last six months. Civil service laws should be changed, although that cannot be done before the 2018 general session of the Legislature. The mayor-president should be given by the Legislature the authority to replace the chief, as in New Orleans and many other major cities.

The mayor wants a significant shift in BRPD policies, some which Dabadie has agreed to in the past six months. But he would not step down, and under current law a mayor must show that a police chief committed misconduct, refused orders or violated policies.

Even beyond the law, there is the matter of BRPD culture: Going back decades, every Baton Rouge police chief has come from the capital city’s region, with almost all rising from within the BRPD ranks.

With a mayor who believes that the department has not enjoyed the full cooperation with the community, this was a frustrating situation.

But aside from occasional dust-ups, the two have sought to cooperate.

That has been one of Dabadie’s strong points, and one his successor should strive to emulate. The chief was praised by his peers upon his retirement for his work with other agencies, including the sheriff’s office in the parish, and federal and state law enforcement. All were deeply involved in the agonies of last year and the aftermath.

The signature anti-gang initiative under Dabadie, dubbed BRAVE, is credited with bringing police together with other agencies, including social services providers, to crack down on repeat offenders but also to steer youth away from crime. It is expensive, and funding for it is a challenge. We believe it is an accomplishment of Dabadie’s time that ought to be continued.

All too often, crisis elevates the flamboyant blowhards; recall Mayor Ray Nagin during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Sometimes, though, it allows a quieter man like Dabadie to show strength through his perseverance and intimate knowledge of a force in which he has served for more than 30 years.

We wish him well.