Reynard Douglas III stepped out of the West Baton Rouge courthouse Tuesday morning angling to change how the parish government and its largest law enforcement agency engages with the public, nearly two weeks after his uncle was fatally shot by a deputy.

Douglas, 30, is in the mix for an open council seat covering much of downtown Port Allen after filing to run as an independent. His uncle, 38-year-old Josef Richardson, was shot in the back of the neck after officers raided of his motel room in search of drugs on July 25 a few miles north of Port Allen.

"It sparked a fire under me," Douglas said.

Though he's been mulling a run for the District 5 seat since last year, the shooting has pushed police-community issues to the forefront ahead of the October primary.

The West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office has come under scrutiny in recent months following the malfeasance conviction of a deputy in July, allegations of inappropriate contact with work-release inmates, and last month's officer-involved shooting, which remains under investigation by Louisiana State Police.

Douglas said he wants to see the sheriff's office also hold more events that let the public interact with deputies in order to bridge potentially frail relations. He points to similar initiatives in Baton Rouge aimed at reducing tension between police and the community.

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Those events also give officers a chance to meet people in the community they serve, Douglas said. 

He points to his work as a special education teacher and community work he's done as ways to help bridge a gap between law enforcement and the community.

"There’s a lot of kids who want to be police officers," Douglas said. "But they see what's in the media, and they don't want to be police anymore." 

Douglas said he also wants stronger vetting for deputies that extend beyond criminal background checks, checks that would examine their personal character.

As of Tuesday, he faces challenger Kenneth Gordon, a Democrat and brother of incumbent Charlene Gordon who is serving her final term on the council. Qualifying ends Thursday.

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