When I was appointed as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police in October 2020, I began my tenure with a message to our employees that police officers should set the example for their communities. To maintain the trust and confidence of the public we serve, we must always strive to be models of professionalism, honesty, courage, and integrity.
I made a commitment on Day 1 to demand accountability, increase efficiency, and leverage technology to accomplish our mission of public safety and service at the highest level through transformational reform. As part of this commitment, I sought an independent, third party to conduct a top-to-bottom assessment of our organization. This report details the results of that assessment and identifies numerous opportunities for growth, advancement, and enhancement.
From the moment we contracted with The Bowman Group (TBG) to conduct this assessment, it has been my intention to release the findings publicly. Transparency is the foundation for growing public trust and improving relationships with our communities. This report reveals many opportunities for improvement, as well as areas of concern. I want you to know that every recommendation in this report is being carefully reviewed, and many have already been adopted, or are in the process of being adopted.
During his second term, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that created the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. This task force created six main topic areas, known as pillars of policing, which focus on best practices: Building Trust and Legitimacy, Policy and Oversight, Technology and Social Media, Community Policing and Crime Reduction, Officer Training and Education, and Officer Safety and Wellness. In conjunction with the recommendations contained in TBG’s report, these six pillars form the foundation for the transformation that the Louisiana State Police is undergoing.
We have adopted procedural justice as a guiding principle and are working tirelessly to establish a culture of transparency and accountability to build trust and legitimacy within our agency and with our communities. We have placed an emphasis on collaborating with community members to develop policies and strategies that reflect community values, especially in communities disproportionately affected by crime. Our policies prioritize trust and legitimacy by emphasizing the sanctity of life and careful consideration of use of force tactics, which are further reinforced through training and reporting. We are continually reviewing our practices and have implemented enhanced policies and training concerning the topics of duty to intervene, use of force, implicit bias, emotional intelligence, and de-escalation.
Our Body Worn Camera policy has been updated to enhance accountability, including the requirement that our camera systems are to be powered up and ready to record. It also requires emergency vehicle operations to be recorded, and mandates the transportation of arrestees to be recorded at all times, unless in a prohibited recording facility, such as a hospital. The policy also mandates the recording of travel to a pursuit or known use of force encounter. It outlines procedures for additional mandatory supervisory video reviews and procedures to document and report misconduct discovered during these reviews.
The Use of Force policy was also updated to ban chokeholds and the use of impact weapons to the head or neck area, unless deadly force is justified. A duty to intervene requirement was added that requires an officer to intervene in a situation when another officer’s behavior is clearly beyond what is reasonable. The policy also mandates that our officers carry a less lethal weapon such as a Taser if the officer is certified and trained, which ensures that a less lethal option other than a firearm is available during an encounter. Finally, the policy addresses positional asphyxia and requires that officers are always mindful of someone’s ability to breathe.
Numerous organizational changes have been implemented to enhance oversight. The Force Investigation Unit was created and is comprised of specially trained detectives who investigate use of force incidents including officer-involved shootings, deadly force, retaliatory force, and in-custody deaths. The Professional Standards & Compliance Section was created to oversee, coordinate, and implement numerous opportunities for growth and advancement, with a focus on 21st Century Policing principles such as fair and impartial policing, community engagement, and procedural justice.
We have recently implemented a new policy aimed at ensuring the timely public release of video evidence from critical incidents. Under this policy, known as the Critical Incident Briefing Video Policy, video-recorded imagery of critical incidents, such as officer-involved shootings, will be released to the public within twenty-one days of the incident. Several of these videos are currently available to view on the official Louisiana State Police YouTube page.
The quality and efficacy of our training programs are critical to ensuring that our officers are equipped to serve and protect our communities. Cadet Class 102 recently graduated and was our first to train under a modern learning model that trains officers to serve with a guardian mindset, as opposed to a warrior mindset. We have increased our focus on training to develop interpersonal skills, stress management, and communication to enhance how we serve and interact with the public. Additionally, personnel are attending training on topics such as Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement, Law Enforcement Active De-Escalation Strategies, Fair and Impartial Policing, Emotional Intelligence, and Implicit Bias. We are reimagining our training to put more focus on the importance of positive public relationships, procedural justice, and officer wellness.
The vast improvements to our technology has led to innovative ways to improve our efficiency and enhance transparency with the community. We have launched a new website at www.lsp.org that is designed to provide a more user-friendly and intuitive online experience with the ability to translate the website in over 100 languages. Department policies are available on the website for public viewing. A portal was created on the website for the public to submit commendations or file a complaint, which ensures that feedback is received and addressed in a timely and efficient manner. The website also houses a portal for citizens to report suspicious activity. This portal allows us to gather valuable information and investigate potential threats quickly and effectively.
We have launched a statewide electronic-citation program, which will expedite the issuance of citations, reduce errors, and provide accurate and real-time information, and will be used in conjunction with our recently implemented Computer Aided Dispatch and Mark43 record management system. This allows us to collect, manage, analyze, and share information related to public safety. This system gives us the ability to track our interactions with the public and use the data collected to improve our overall effectiveness. We are in the process of creating interactive online portals that will allow for transparent viewing of various aspects of our activities, including the locations of use of force incidents and calls for service.
Our leadership has placed an emphasis on community policing and collaborating with community members to recognize issues and work together to find effective solutions. Our personnel are encouraged to visit schools, daycares, businesses, neighborhoods, and parks during their shifts and interact with the public. We collaborate with University Medical Center to support the Sudden Impact Program for high schools across the state, which raises awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired and stresses the importance of wearing a seatbelt. Our Special Victims Unit frequently delivers presentations to schools, churches, other law enforcement agencies, and various interest groups on the topics of human trafficking and online child endangerment threats.
We have also invested in measures to support our personnel by implementing and enhancing officer wellness and safety programs. The Trooper and Employee Assistance Program is a vital resource that provides necessary assistance to employees in emotional, mental, and spiritual need. Additionally, each Troop has a network of peer support volunteers who have completed Critical Incident Stress Management and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills training. The Department’s chaplaincy program is also available to department members in need of support.
These are just a few examples of the many initiatives that we have underway. As you read this report, it is my hope that you know we are working diligently to address the various opportunities for change and growth that have been identified by TBG. We are committed to this transformation and we are dedicated to serving our communities with transparency, honor, and integrity.
Lamar A. Davis, Colonel
Superintendent, Louisiana State Police
Deputy Secretary, Department of Public Safety