BATON ROUGE, LA (fox44) — Baton Rouge Police Officers no longer have discretion regarding violent misdemeanor offenses.
“As a matter of policy, our officers are expected to book all violent misdemeanors,” Chief Dabadie explained. “That may include certain types of assaults, batteries, any domestic violence laws, and any other misdemeanor crimes against persons that are deemed to be violent in nature.”
The policy was implemented under former Chief Dewayne White in late 2012. However, when he was terminated, there seemed to be some confusion regarding whether the policy still remained. That confusion is what allowed for two Simple Battery suspects to be released on with a misdemeanor summons for their alleged participation in the beating of a family at a gas station on Mother’s Day.
“I do regret that two of the suspects were issued misdemeanor summonses at the scene instead of being booked,” Chief Dabadie said in the day’s following the attack. “That was a mistake and an error of judgment.”
Officer discretion does remain in misdemeanor cases that are considered non-violent, such as, but not limited to, shoplifting, property crimes, or other offenses where it does not seem prudent or necessary for an arrest.
“Our officers also have the discretion to book for any other misdemeanor crimes where they may feel it’s in the public’s best interest to book the offender,” Chief Dabadie noted.
Chief Dabadie noted that although officers are legally allowed to release a suspect with a summons for any misdemeanor offense, it’s the policy of the Baton Rouge Police Department to book all violent offenses as a way of defusing a possibly volatile situation.
“Booking a violent misdemeanor removes the aggressor from the incident and greatly reduces the possibility of the incident starting up again once the police leave the scene,” he said. “If we issue a summons the aggressor could possibly return to the incident, making the situation worse. Booking them into the prison also ensures the subject is entered into the system, which may alert us to any other crimes they may be wanted for.”
We're told an officer could face disciplinary action if he or she releases a violent offender with a summons. However, that will be determined on a case by case basis.