Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — Carl Dabadie has been making the rounds as interim chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department, showing up at a number of public events, including one Thursday night which he did not know had been postponed.
He has made it a priority to be a recognizable figure whether he becomes the next permanent chief or not, and no crowd is too small to make a positive impression.
"And whether we have one (person) or we have 100," Dabadie said, "we're going to handle that and give them everything that they need from us."
Dewayne White did not get a long with Mayor Kip Holden, but he had a good reputation in the community. People liked that he reached out to them and tried to improve the department's image. Dabadie is taking the same approach as police chief.
"I'm making all these town hall meetings," Dabadie said. "I'm coming to the community, to the council members, having meetings with them, touching base with them to see how I can help them, and how I can get in their communities and help them."
Aside from personal appearances, the department's highest-profile outreach program is BRAVE. A joint project with the sheriff's office and the district attorney's office, BRAVE puts additional officers on the street in the 70805 zip code to establish a better relationship with the neighborhood.
Dabadie said Thursday the program is becoming more effective.
"We're getting a lot of calls now at times where we weren't getting calls before," he stated. "People are starting to trust that the Baton Rouge Police Department and the sheriff's office and the attorney's office are all working together. And I think that's what they needed to see.
"The only thing we have planned right now is to get this first call-in done, as (District Attorney) Hillar Moore has been telling everybody that it's coming. We're going to get that done, and hopefully expand it in the future. That's probably the goal that we're working for."
During Dabadie's public interactions, he has heard people call for the chief to become an elected office, rather than an appointed position. He disagrees.
"I don't think electing the chief is going to solve the problems," he said. "I think that by having an appointed chief, he works for the people. You know, some of the comments have been that if he's an appointed chief, he doesn't have to answer to the people. But I think I've been answering to the people a lot lately."
Dabadie's term as interim police chief is scheduled to end in May, but he said that had not stopped him from making decisions the way he sees fit.
"The administration has been great," he stated. "They've basically told me to go out here and run the Baton Rouge Police Department, so I haven't been inhibited by anything."
Chief White was known to have a poor relationship with the police union, especially during the end of his tenure.
Dabadie said he is on good terms with the union, including its leader, Chris Stewart.
"We have a good working relationship," he said. "I've known Chris for a very long time, I've known a lot of people in the union for a very long time. I don't foresee it being a problem. We'll just have to wait and see; only time will tell on that."