(LA) As we’ve said before, Louisiana has a serious problem with their law enforcement agencies and their jails. I bet by what you’ve read so far, you’re thinking, yeah, we know how bad they treat people they stop. But this article isn’t about how officers treat civilians. It’s about how they treat their fellow officers. It’s about the everyday abuse that minority officers are subjected to. An abuse that pushes them into a position of being forced to decide between, join us in targeting minorities and become one of the ‘good ones’ or go against us and become our enemy, never being able to count on back-up if you need it. I’m never surprised when I see a minority officer being abusive toward minority individuals. Disappointed, but never surprised. It’s the attitude they have been conditioned to take if they want to stay alive, especially since they know they will not have any support if they report the abuse. Sure, there will always be some who are racist. Just like a White man can feel superior and look down on other White men, the same happens within minorities. In general though, I would say most are conditioned into going along.
Col. Kevin Reeves
Col. Kevin Reeves is a perfect example of what I am talking about when I show minority officers are between a rock and a hard place. Col. Reeves, a White man, was in charge of the Louisiana State Police. He was the man who was in control of the attitude of the agency. He knew there were allegations of racism. It was up to him to address this type of police misconduct, but before he could do that he had to decide whether to accept or repudiate racism. He accepted it. A White officer accidentally recorded himself giving the name of a co-worker and saying, “F—– n—-, what did you expect?” The State Police did conduct an internal investigation. The result: “the white trooper had not even been reprimanded for the racist recording.”
According to the officer who made the comment, “the stars couldn’t have lined up any worse.” And “It would be like me accidentally sending a picture of my naked wife to someone,” McKay is quoted telling investigators in State Police records. “It wasn’t supposed to get out.” This was the excuse that Col. Reeves accepted. He shouldn’t be punished for his racist comment because only people accepting of racism were supposed to hear his real feelings. It was an accident that someone, who would be offended by the comment, found out what was said.
Racism is a Deep-Rooted Problem
Col. Kevin Reeves preferred to ignore his officers’ racism, pretending they were isolated indicents, but that’s far from the case. According to the KSAT 12 article,
But an Associated Press review of hundreds of State Police records revealed at least a dozen more instances over a three-year period in which employees forwarded racist emails on their official accounts with subject lines like “PROUD TO BE WHITE,” or demeaned minority colleagues with names including “Hershey’s Kiss,” “Django” and “Egg Roll.”
This is only what they came across in official records. In other words, it’s the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of officers who are racist but smart enough not to put their comments down in writing or let them be recorded. And I’m sure that no one is surprised that they didn’t find anything wrong with calling an officer “DJango.” According to the article, “State Police determined the nickname was ‘not intended to be racially derogatory.'” (We highly recommend you read the KSAT article for further details on the documented racism).
Reeves Retires Amid Growing Scandal
The Louisiana State Police were able to keep this quiet for a long time, but now that it has come out Col. Reeves immediately submitted his resignation. He was fully aware that if he stayed on news agencies would be digging for more. By abruptly bailing, he’s telling us that there is plenty more to be found.
Governor Edwards picked Captain Lamar A. Davis to fill the position. All appearances indicate that Governor Edwards took the toxic atmosphere at the Louisiana State Police, seriously. Captain Lamar is a Black man which will hopefully make minority officers more willing to report abuse, but also encourage them to believe that their complaints will be taken seriously.
According to TheAdvocate.come, “A captain until Friday, Davis is the fourth Black superintendent and was chosen over about 15 higher ranked majors and lieutenant colonels, officials said.” I see this as another good sign. Governor Edwards knows that Reeves’ attitude would have permeated those immediately around him. If they weren’t standing up to Reeves then they were complicit in his racism. Governor Edwards would not have wanted to fill the position with someone who was complicit. Superintendent Lamar has a lot of work to do in rooting out the racism. We wish him the best of luck for everyone’s sake.