BR police

Members of the Baton Rouge Police Department, including the special response team, investigate the scene in this file photo.

After a Baton Rouge police officer was accused of purchasing stolen electronics several weeks ago, he sat down and drafted a memo alleging widespread corruption and rampant misconduct throughout the narcotics division, including among his superiors. 

That memo was given to the police chief and other top brass. Just weeks later, another officer was arrested for drug dealing and four narcotics supervisors were reassigned to street patrols, effectively cutting the division in half. 

While the department continues its investigation, The Advocate obtained a copy of the memo written by Cpl. Jeremiah Ardoin, which includes accusations that narcotics officers routinely stopped and searched Black people without probable cause, planted drugs on suspects and coerced prostitutes into setting up drug dealers. 

Supervisors sometimes participated in the misconduct and actively tried to cover it up, Ardoin claimed while facing charges of his own.

BRPD officials declined to comment on the memo citing an ongoing investigation. While the department did not admit to taking action in response to the memo, department leaders recently arrested one narcotics officer, Cpl. Jason Acree, and transferred four supervisors into uniform patrol, including division commander Lt. Jeff Pittman.

Officials have not said what this could mean for the future of the division, or whether more arrests are expected. The department has also released few details about the specific allegations underlying their investigation.

But the memo from Ardoin was sent to department leaders in late December, according to a source with knowledge of the case. After the written statement was provided to The Advocate, the newspaper verified its authenticity. The source spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about the memo.

At least some of the allegations from the statement have been confirmed by BRPD investigators, including evidence cited in the arrest warrant for Acree, who faces accusations he stole marijuana seized as evidence and gave it to his friend. He was booked into jail last week on one count each of possession with intent to distribute and malfeasance in office. 

The warrant says Acree told another officer about stealing the drugs. That officer was Ardoin, sources told The Advocate.

In addition to the allegations about mishandled evidence, the memo makes broader claims about how BRPD narcotics officers interact with members of the public. "The narcotics division has specifically targeted the urban community," Ardoin wrote in the statement.

He claimed supervisors would often direct officers to stop and search people without probable cause: "For instance, if a black male was seen walking in the street, they would instruct us to contact him and pat him down," Ardoin wrote. 

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Before the department outfitted all officers with body cameras, narcotics detectives would make arrests after planting drugs on people, according to the memo. Once the body cameras were installed, the officers "complained that they could not do it anymore," the statement says. 

All of those officers besides Acree were transferred out of the division on Tuesday. Acree remains on administrative leave since his arrest.

BRPD officials have said the corruption probe is ongoing but declined to comment on which officers specifically are included in the investigation.

Ardoin also wrote that Acree and a supervisor would contact prostitutes on the internet and set up dates, then show up and threaten to book the women into jail for prostitution "unless they set up a drug dealer." Once the drug deal took place, the detectives would follow the dealer and stop him, according to the statement.

The officers would call these investigations "troll rips," Ardoin wrote.

Ardoin also described an alleged instance when Acree stole $800 that was seized during an investigation, but another officer reported the theft to supervisors. The supervisors recovered the money and told the complaining officer "that she better not say another word about the funds being stolen because if she does, then she will be transferred immediately," according to the statement.

Ardoin also alleges that other narcotics officers turned on him after he told department leaders last year that "leadership within the BRPD narcotics division needed to change." 

Both he and Acree will likely remain on administrative leave until their criminal cases have been resolved, then receive a discipline decision from the chief. Discipline could include a suspension or termination from the department.

Federal investigators were contacted about the misconduct allegations, but a BRPD spokesman was unable to say last week whether that led to a formal probe. Federal officials declined to comment.

East Baton Rouge prosecutors are in the process of reviewing cases involving Acree and Ardoin since their credibility has now been challenged. The widespread corruption allegations documented by Ardoin raise questions about whether even more cases could be impacted in the future.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.