BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Louisiana State Police held a news conference at the police training academy on Wednesday, Oct. 11, to update the public on the agency-wide transformational reform initiatives the department plans to implement.
The strategy was developed with The Bowman Group, a police and public practice consulting agency.
LSP hired the group last year to “drive organizational change.” State police said in March 2022 that consulting services would last through May 2023, and the $1.5 million price tag would be divided between the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years.
The top-to-bottom assessment was designed to look at:
- Community policing/engagement and civilian complaints
- Assessment of agency’s use of force policies, procedures and protocols
- Crisis intervention (de-escalation)
- Fair and impartial policing practices (stops, searches, arrests)
- Organizational culture, leadership and professional development
- Recruitment, hiring, promotion, and retention
- Officer wellness and employee assistance and early intervention systems
- Training and academy operations
- Technology, data collection and resources
“Having a third party come in like the Bowman Group gives us a different perspective and gives us the ability to take that info not only based upon what they see of our agency but based upon the best practices throughout their tenure and their experience,” said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis.
Before the Department of Justice called for an investigation, State Police hired the agency. In that time they have dug into policies, shadowed troopers and looked at where the agency can improve.
“We identified that the Louisiana State Police was very capable of being a premier public safety agency, but really lacked the ability to truly guard the public’s trust,” said Dr. Theron Bowman.
Some of the standout recommendations they have are to clarify when deadly force can be used and to expand situations when police body cameras are on and recording. The Bowman Group suggests training beginning in the academy to move away from military-style tactics and rather take the more modern approach and emphasize community policing.
“Some of the reform changes that we’ve made include the revision of the body-worn camera policy, which expands the types of incidents that shall be recorded, increases supervision, and supervision video review requirements, specified actions to be taken when misconduct occurs, and establish requirements that cameras should always be powered on and ready to record when on duty,” Davis said.
Reform changes also include the use of force policy, mandates officers carry less than lethal weapons, the creation of a force investigations unit, the creation of professional standards and compliance sessions, and the creation of internet briefing videos.
State police are also working to update their record-keeping technology to make data and information more readily available to the public and other agencies. Davis said that the agency is already working on many of these changes, but he wants people to know that it may take a few years for the technology to be fully updated.
“We want our troops to go home safely. We want our citizens and visitors to go home safely. And in order to achieve that, then we must start at the beginning. We must look at our training, not just policies, but look at our training,” Davis said.
Some other recommendations from the Bowman Group to improve the state police include community engagement, analyzing internal affairs data, establishing a clear standard for when to use forces, inputting all data for searches and stops and making the department more diverse.
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