St. Landry

Mar 19, 2012 11:20 PM by Shawn Kline

Are Washington Police stereotyping?

The small town of Washington erupts, some accusing police of using "excessive force."

Mayor Joseph Pitre may have used excessive force on his gavel in an attempt to call order during the, sometimes unruly, Monday night meeting.

Arguments between residents and police officers boiled-over at times, shouting accusations at each other while the monthly meeting progressed.

Some folks in the St. Landry Parish Town of Washington say police are "targeting" a small group of people and using "excessive force." 

Things came to a breaking point just over a week ago when one officer shot a pit-bull.
Police say the pit-bull was attacking the town's K-9 Officer, Sampson. The owners were charged with battery on a police officer and battery on a K-9 officer.

"This has to stop!" Mary Ann Lavergne shouted at Monday night's council meeting. "If it means I have to bring Al Sharpton in here... I'll bring him to the Town of Washington!"

Lavergne is one of many residents who say Washington Police are using excessive force, citing a number of unconfirmed incidents where officers arrested residents.
Police could not speak to many of those incidents are in litigation. However, Police Chief Bruce Broussard said the residents raising issues are the same ones he has "issues" with on a consistent basis.
Lavergne responded to that by saying Broussard's officers are stereotyping Washington residents.

"To the police officers: you are not from here," Lavergne said. "You need to get to know the people before you stereotype them."

Lavergne addressed these issues with town council monday night, going as far as asking council members to "fire" some police officers.
Council could have called in a third party, like Louisiana State Police to investigate but opted not to.

At least one council member sided with Chief Broussard, two others voted to launch an investigation and a fourth abstained-- not enough to pass the motion.

Chief Broussard tells residents he's not going to change the way his department operates because a handful of people don't agree with him.

"I will continue to enforce the law and keep the people of Washington safe," Broussard said.

For many in the full capacity meeting, Broussard's promise wasn't good enough. Some residents tell KATC this is just a set-up for more problems with the police department.

On the other hand, police say they're just doing their job.

 

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