The director of a state board that oversees the private security industry has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation related to his recent efforts to shut down a security company whose employees were accused of "acting like cops" during an incident outside a Tigerland bar last year.
Fabian Blache III, director of the State Board of Private Security Examiners, confirmed Monday night that he and his assistant, Bridgett Hull, were placed on paid administrative leave about 10 days earlier. He said the board chair notified them of the decision.
Blache said he couldn't comment on specific allegations against him but said the investigation is somehow related to his attempts to shut down Delta Tactical LLC, possibly including his actions during an audit of the company, which was hired by bars in the Tigerland area to patrol their parking lots.
Blache said he's confident he will be back at work soon — likely by early next week — and alluded to underlying politics, asserting emphatically that "I've done absolutely nothing wrong. I'm doing my job."
The director once again defended his ongoing efforts to revoke Delta Tactical's operating license. Blache has accused the company's owner, Nick Fetty, of crossing an important line that separates police officers from private security guards.
A man was sitting inside his truck in the parking lot of a Tigerland bar one night late last year when three security guards approached him wearing bulletproof vests and armed with handguns. The man told police later that he initially thought the guards were law enforcement officers as they pulled him out of his truck and placed him in handcuffs.
Fetty applied for an operating license with the state board early last year. Security companies are required to be licensed by the board. Blache issued Fetty a probationary license in April, but about six months later notified him about issues with company uniforms, incomplete training requirements and other violations.
Blache and other board staff conducted an audit investigating the company while employees were working one night in late September. Fetty's body camera footage from that night — which he shared with The Advocate in December — shows Blache asserting his authority as board director and warning Fetty his company is on the rocks for violating board rules on a provisional license.
"Let's be real," Blache told Fetty then. "Your company has no leg to stand on. … You've got to get this chip off your shoulder and understand that you don't run this show."
Fetty and two of his employees were arrested the following month on false imprisonment and simple battery counts after an incident outside a Tigerland bar when the three Delta Tactical guards pulled a man out of his truck and placed him in handcuffs.
Board staff happened to be conducting another audit of the company that evening and witnessed the incident. Body camera footage shows Blache and Hull approach the guards.
"They put a light in this guy's face and started acting like cops," Blache said in an interview last year. In order to justify using handcuffs, security guards "must have a clear felony situation or reasonably believe that people are in danger" — two conditions that Blache said were not met in this case.
Fetty had denied any wrongdoing and asserted the guards were justified in their actions because they believed the man may have swallowed a controlled substance while making "questionable gestures" inside his truck. Fetty had also said he believed the incident was a setup orchestrated by Blache and his associates, claiming the man inside the truck was working with board members who "magically appeared" just in time to witness the interaction unfold.
Blache later sent Fetty a "cease and desist" letter dated Oct. 16, telling him his license had been revoked and ordering him to stop company operations.
The board voted in January to hold a hearing to consider overturning the revocation, but no hearing has been scheduled. In the meantime Delta Tactical can't operate.
Blache, who is a former New York Police Department officer and former investigator for the Louisiana Attorney General's office, took over as director of the board in 2016. He maintains that some of his actions as director have been unpopular because his goal is to clean up the private security industry, making sure companies are following the rules and displaying an adequate degree of professionalism.
Fetty did not respond to requests for comment, and his attorney John Brumfield declined to comment on the case.
One board member, Ritchie Rivers, confirmed having received an email from the board chair on March 29 stating that Blache had been placed on leave. Rivers said he anticipates a meeting will be scheduled for later this week when the board will address the allegations against Blache. Other board members declined to comment.