Impunity, nepotism and racism at the State Police

Impunity, nepotism and racism at the State Police

When Jacob Brown was a cadet in training to join the Louisiana State Police, his supervisor tried to have him kicked out of the academy for having a “toxic” character that included lying and cutting corners. Those warnings went unheeded and Brown soon graduated and quickly went on to tie for the most uses of force by a state trooper from 2015-19. Eighty-three percent of Brown’s uses of force were on Black people. While Brown should have never been allowed to join the force, he had a powerful ally at the State Police: his father, who had his own racist past. The AP’s Jim Mustian and Jake Bleiberg investigate the culture at Louisiana’s most elite law enforcement agency. 

“If you’re a part of the good ol’ boy system, there’s no wrong you can do,” said Carl Cavalier, a Black state trooper who was once decorated for valor but recently fired in part for criticizing the agency’s handling of brutality cases. It’s an us-versus-them culture, they say, in which many troopers and higher-ups are more interested in covering for each other than living up to the agency’s image of honor, duty, courage and “doing the right thing.”

Delta variant hits Louisiana’s rural communities hardest 
When the Delta variant arrived in Louisiana in late summer, the state’s rural areas were hit hardest, a reverse from the first wave, when the pandemic was mostly relegated to urban areas. Lower vaccination rates, political misinformation on the safety of vaccines and weaker safety measures to prevent virus spread all contributed to Delta’s disproportionate impact in rural areas. As The Advocate’s Emily Woodruff and Jeff Adelson report, the human cost has been immense. 

Livingston’s story is the story of many sparsely populated parishes across the state, where residents had felt insulated from outbreaks that flourished in big cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge. At the same time, those parishes are some of the least vaccinated, creating vulnerable pockets for both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents. “Eventually the virus was spread anywhere there are people left and susceptible,” said Kimberly Hood, assistant secretary of public health at the LDH. “It doesn’t surprise me that the virus managed to infiltrate every parish in the state.”

Utilities pass on risk, hinder improvements 
Utility rates are going up, as climate change causes more frequent and stronger natural disasters and as the for-profit companies that supply our energy put off routine grid maintenance and needed upgrades and rely on customers to pay for repairs and grid hardening – through fees – after storms hit. As The Advocate’s Mark Ballard explains, such practices could make it harder to strengthen the state’s fragile power grid over the long term, as utility customers can’t afford to pay. 

“All of the reasons point to the frustrating reality that our present system puts customers in the position of bearing all of the risks associated with utility company decisions,” said PSC Chairman Craig Greene, R-Baton Rouge. Privately owned utilities are allowed to charge customers the cost of making and moving electricity plus a profit. “I am pushing for a top-to-bottom review of how our utility system works. I want a Louisiana where businesses have skin in the game and their customers benefit from companies avoiding risk, not passing risk on.”

Edwards to tout Louisiana as a clean energy hub 
Gov. John Bel Edwards will travel to Scotland on Thursday to promote Louisiana as a location for clean energy projects. The governor and his entourage will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference, a meeting packed with world leaders designed to prevent dangerous changes to the climate. Edwards has already set a goal to cut Louisiana’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. The AP’s Melinda Deslatte reports

“In Glasgow, we will have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, representing different governments, but also corporations and different sectors of the clean energy movement,” Edwards said in a statement. “Make no mistake: an industry-wide transition to cleaner, less environmentally impactful energy production and utilization is going to happen regardless of if Louisiana participates, so it’s best that Louisiana be a leader in this space,” he said.

Programming Note
Racism: Dismantling the System – The Great Equalizer: How Policy Cemented Educational Inequity 
Join us and LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs today at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the misrepresentation of education as the great equalizer, and how the education system has been complicit in reproducing inequality despite legal segregation ending in 1954. Click here to register or watch on LBP’s Facebook Live stream

Number of the Day
$288.6 billion
– The wealth of Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, which makes him worth more than Exxon Mobil Corp (Source: Bloomberg