A Baton Rouge police officer's racially charged text message that resulted in his suspension has become the latest cause du jour in Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's promise of a top-down reform of the police department.
The Advocate reported Monday that BRPD placed officer Blaine Dupuy on administrative leave after receiving a complaint that he allegedly texted other officers an image of a chimpanzee and the phrase "chimp out."
Dupuy sent the image at a time when Dupuy's squad had been discussing a protest over the fatal shooting by police of Alton Sterling and calls to reform the police department, a law enforcement official said.
A Baton Rouge police officer has been suspended amid allegations he sent a racially charged …
Asked Tuesday if the text message incident caused her to further lose faith in BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie serving in the department's top position, Broome did not answer directly.
"I believe that the text message issue is another reflection of much-needed reform in our department," she said.
"Is a leadership change still on my agenda?" she added. "Yes."
The mayor-president spoke repeatedly on the campaign trail about her desire to replace Dabadie and the necessity of changing BRPD training, policies and practices to heal the relationship between officers and those in the black community.
Four decades ago, the U.S. Justice Department issued an unequivocal warning to some three do…
Five months into her term as mayor-president, Broome and Dabadie have been forced to work together as state Civil Service laws say the mayor cannot fire a police chief without just cause.
During the past five months since her election as mayor-president, though, both Broome and Dabadie have said their conversations have been positive.
Broome said in a May 12 interview that she and Dabadie were "on the same page in terms of wanting change and wanting to improve the department."
Their views on what to do about Dupuy appear to differ, however, as Dabadie placed the officer on leave while Broome said late Monday that she agreed with "disciplinary action, including termination."
The words "police reform" became a frequent buzzword in Baton Rouge over the last 10 months,…
A number of community activists have also pushed Broome and Dabadie to fire BRPD Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, who were involved in Sterling's fatal shooting in July 2016.
Broome said earlier this month that Dabadie had sole authority over disciplinary action, but that she has been talking to him about concerns citizens have expressed over Salamoni and Lake remaining in the police department.
In another racially charged matter, the mayor-president also took heat Tuesday for issuing a proclamation making May 19, 2017 Malcolm X Day.
Former East Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Joel Boé blasted the proclamation Tuesday in an email to the mayor-president, Metro Council members and media members. He pointed out that Broome issued the proclamation on May 19 — the same day she penned an open letter calling for unity across Baton Rouge.
"In my opinion, declaring any day as Malcolm X day only makes the divide in our city that much greater," Boe wrote, noting that Malcolm X believed in black supremacy and that he rejected the Civil Rights movement. "The same would go for if you declared any day as Robert E Lee day."
A little-noticed Malcolm X Day proclamation that Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued…
Broome's spokeswoman Janene Tate said the proclamation was to recognize a weekend event at the Gus Young Park that focused on positive change in Baton Rouge.
"This was a diverse, family-oriented event highlighting unity, which the mayor-president stressed in her open letter to the community this past week," Tate said. "The mayor-president recognizes that this event was named for Malcolm X, who, in his later writings and speeches, emphasized the need for all races to work together for progress."
Advocate staff writer Jim Mustian contributed to this report.