Ex-IG investigator distances self from Burl Cain probe; Cain’s son out as Avoyelles warden amid investigation _lowres (copy)

Greg Phares

I am writing in response to your recent articles on the resignation of Baton Rouge Police Department Officer Blane Salamoni stemming from the death of Alton Sterling.

Officer Salamoni’s actions in confronting an armed, physically strong individual with a long criminal history who violently resisted efforts to disarm him were exhaustively reviewed by the United States Justice Department and the Louisiana attorney general. As you have reported, both agencies concluded that he acted legally.

Notwithstanding those conclusions, BRPD Chief Murphy Paul chose to fire Salamoni. The officer’s withdrawal of his appeal and voluntary acceptance of the chief’s decision should have written a relatively quiet end to a divisive chapter in Baton Rouge history. Instead, the chief used the opportunity to verbally attack Salamoni and to imply that the chief’s predecessors had “traumatized” the city’s African American community.

In over nine years as Baton Rouge police chief, I fired or accepted the resignation of many officers. It is a distasteful, but sometimes necessary duty. While you have to justify your decision to the media, the department and the public, you do not use the occasion to gratuitously demean the officer. Blane Salamoni did not deserve that.

During my tenure as chief, the police department and others in the administration of Mayor Tom Ed McHugh engaged in extensive efforts to enhance the safety of our African American neighborhoods. Those efforts included the demolition of abandoned buildings that were being used as drug houses, proactive drug enforcement in problem areas identified by the community, partnering with the United States Attorney to federally prosecute gun crimes and working with 100 Black Men, Mid City Redevelopment and many neighborhood groups. Blane Salamoni’s family, which for two generations back has served honorably in the police department, was part of that effort.

Blane Salamoni, his family and his attorneys have gracefully ended their fight, moved on and opened the door for Baton Rouge to heal. The police Administration should do the same.

Greg Phares

Chief Criminal Deputy at East Feliciana Sheriff's Office

Baton Rouge