NewsLafayette Parish


LPD won't enforce state mask mandate, but officers will wear masks

Posted at 12:34 PM, Feb 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-21 13:42:34-05

If the council passes a mandate, Lafayette officers will enforce it, Lafayette's new police chief says.

But until then, officers will not be enforcing the state mandate.

In a radio interview this morning, Chief Thomas Glover Sr. said that's what most agencies in Louisiana are doing, as well.

"I have taken the position that whatever the council votes on, we'll enforce that," he said. "But our department is not, at this time, enforcing a mandate to wear a mask, like the majority of departments around the state."

However, the chief said, every Lafayette Police employee, sworn or civilian, will wear a mask on police property, in police buildings, in police cars - at all times when they are on duty. To accomplish that, he said that the department has purchased two masks for each employee "and they're required to wear them."

Glover, who took over on December 31, appeared for more than an hour on local activist Kenneth Boudreaux's weekly Sunday radio program. The topics were wide-ranging, and listeners submitted questions as well.

A frequent topic of discussion was police misuse of power. Glover said he's creating a compliance officer position who will be in charge of reviewing use-of-force incidents; the first job will be to review every one that's happened in the past year.

"I want to make sure that, as a police department, we are following our own guidelines," Glover said. "If I identify issues, I will act on them as long as the statute of limitations hasn't passed."

Glover said he's already found accusations of misbehavior that he's referred to the department's criminal division for investigation of possible criminal acts by police officers. At that point, Boudreaux asked Glover if he thought it was a "good look" for the LPD to investate its own.

"That's a legitimate concern, and on some occasions it would be referred to the outside," Glover said. But outside investigations hampers his ability to control impact on the department - and that includes taking action against violators, he said.

Glover said during his first four hours on the job he was briefed on an incident of alleged misuse of force.

"I could have done what was customary. I could have waited until Monday to refer it out or give it to Internal Affairs," he said. "But within an hour or so of having looked at a video, I made a decision to have that person investigated by Internal Affairs for misuse of force and violation of policy, and called in a detective on their day off to start the investigation from a criminal standpoint."

Glover said he's not "anti-police." He said he's anti-abuse of power. He said if he didn't love the profession he wouldn't have spent his adult life in service in it.

"Anybody who does something to taint the badge should be dealt with, and if it's criminal, they should be locked up," Glover said. "There will be history made in terms of holding people accountable."

Glover he's already disagreed with an IA finding in a case, which he's told has never been done before.

"If I don't make a difference, I don't need to be here," he said.

Glover also said he's going to ensure that Lafayette Police officers who see misconduct are required to report it.

Glover touched on some of his goals, including meaningful community policing, a youth police academy, a citizens police academy, and the creation of a mental health program that will assist officers and families with people who are having a crisis, but also to help officers who need it.

Glover said he's in favor of a citizens' review board, because police ask the community for raises and better benefits, "so there's nothing wrong with citizens having oversight of the department."

Boudreaux asked Glover what he needs from the community to help him deliver the change he's promising.

"Lafayette, I need your input, I need your participation. I am well known for involving people who complain about things in the solutions. i want you to let me know, when you see me on the street, let me know what's going on," Glover said. "I need to know whether or not our police department is working for you. Call me, email me, I promise you I will address it. We may not agree, but we will understand why a decision was made. I'm pleading with you, the community, northside, southside, regardless of political affiliation, please let me know what's going on."

Here's the whole interview. If you don't see the video below, click here.