Before Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome took her oath of office in January, she announced that she was launching a national search for the next chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department.

But more than three months later, the urgency to replace BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. has slowed. Few traces can be found of an actual search for the next chief. No job ad has been posted, no search committee has been formed, no search consultants have been hired and no agreement has been reached for Dabadie to step aside.

That last point is why the national search for Dabadie's replacement hasn't kicked off, Broome said in a recent interview. 

"I want to resolve the transition with the chief before I do any of that," Broome said. "I think that's the right way to go about doing that."

State Civil Service laws protect Dabadie from being fired simply because a new administration wants a new police chief. Both Broome and Dabadie continue to insist their conversations about his position have been positive, though they have moved more slowly than Broome expected.

Broome has spoken multiple times of her desire to use the International Association of Chiefs of Police to help with a police chief search. Broome said she has had multiple conversations with people at the organization, and she wants to work with them to create a blueprint for the future direction of the BRPD under the next chief.

But IACP has not been retained on a contract to help Broome search for a police chief, in which the group would post job vacancies, put together lists of candidates, review resumes, set up interviews and more. Broome would likely have to ask the Metro Council to authorize the money for a contract with the organization for a police chief search.

Broome also said she recently heard from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and that she hopes to have them help with her search to replace Dabadie as well.

One of the first steps Broome will have to take once she decides to start searching for a chief is to write to the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board and call for an exam, which is another state Civil Service rule. Applicants for the chief position must take a test, and a list of those who passed is then sent onto the administration as a list of qualified candidates.

Robert S. Lawrence, the state examiner of the board, said his office does not start preparing a test until they know a vacancy has occurred, or sometimes if they receive advanced warning a chief plans to retire. Neither has happened in Dabadie's case.

If Broome wants to recruit national candidates, the requirement that potential chiefs would need to take a test before they can even be offered a job could be enough to keep some away, said former New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas, who also led the Nashville police department and Washington State Patrol.

"A city like Baton Rouge, to have a civil service system for the police chief and deputy chief even, is really a relic of an older time that restricts the ability of the mayor to do a strong national search," Serpas said.

Even if Broome were to hire a national police group or a headhunter firm to help her search and recruit candidates, "their background is probably such that they don't want to take a rudimentary exam," Serpas added.

One Baton Rouge lawmaker wants the Legislature to change the law that both protects any BRPD chief from being easily fired and requires that applicants for the chief job take a test.

State Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, filed House Bill 595 for the upcoming legislative session to give future Baton Rouge mayor-presidents more leverage to hire and fire a police chief without civil service laws interfering. In many other cities around the nation and in some other cities in Louisiana — including New Orleans — the police chief serves at the pleasure of the mayor and civil service laws do not protect his or her position.

James' bill would not apply retroactively and therefore it would not affect the ongoing Broome and Dabadie dance. But it could help her or future mayor-presidents when they search for future chiefs and the candidates would not have to take the mandated test. 

"Putting the decision in the hands of the mayor actually puts it in the hands of the community," James said, arguing that the public's voice can be stifled by the civil service laws and by the BRPD union. "The mayor is answerable to the community."

Broome called the concept of James' bill "absolutely something I could be supportive of" though she said she has not seen the exact text.

James also worries that qualified candidates to become Baton Rouge's police chief might shun the Capital City because they do not want to have to lead a police department where civil service laws give them so little leverage to promote and discipline officers.

He pointed to the ease in recruiting for sheriffs, and said it's because they are not bound by civil service. 

But Broome disagreed, saying civil service rules should not be an obstruction toward attracting good candidates for the job. Regardless of civil service rules, a police chief can still lay out a bold vision and create the necessary environment to implement his or her goals, Broome said.

The tension between Broome's desire to hire a new chief and the legal protection Dabadie is entitled to will eventually break, Serpas said.

"I saw enough of the literature to see that the mayor ran on a campaign of a lot of things and one of them was a new police chief," Serpas said. "I know Chief Dabadie is someone who enjoys civil service protection and mayor enjoys the referendum of the public, and those two issues are going to have to be resolved sooner or later."

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​