Tentative date set for BR police chief’s exam

Fired Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White hopes to be reinstated after his civil service appeal, but the search for his successor continues to inch forward all the while.

The Office of State Examiner tentatively set May 22 for eligible applicants to take the civil service exam for the chief’s position. The local Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board plans to announce the test later this month and approve applications at its April 18 meeting, officials said Tuesday.

After the test is given, the Office of State Examiner will return the scores to the Civil Service Board, which then certifies a list of eligible candidates and forwards it to East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden, said Robert S. Lawrence, the deputy state examiner.

When White was selected in 2011 to replace former Police Chief Jeff LeDuff, Holden relied on a 23-member advisory committee that interviewed candidates and recommended the top five. White had been included in that short list, though he received fewer committee votes than the other four finalists.

Holden also used a five-member screening committee in 2005 after former Police Chief Pat Englade retired.

“Once the Civil Service Board certifies the list of eligibles, the appointing authority (Holden) is free to use whatever selection process he deems is necessary to help him make the selection,” Lawrence said.

Holden did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment about the search, and it was not clear whether he planned to form another committee to cull the candidate pool.

Two members of the 2011 committee — which included business, religious and community leaders — said they had not heard anything about this year’s process.

Holden’s chief administrative officer, William Daniel, said he also did not have any information.

Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle, who supported having an advisory committee help in choosing LeDuff’s successor, said Tuesday she planned to send Holden an email asking him about his plans for the current search.

“I think some type of search committee has to be formed in order for us to get a pool of candidates,” she said.

The search for Baton Rouge’s next police chief follows a highly publicized firing and a month of recriminations between White and Holden.

Less than two years into his tenure, White was accused of insubordination and disregarding departmental policy on several occasions.

The ousted chief, for his part, claimed the mayor’s office micromanaged him to the point of stripping him of his discretion.

White has appealed his termination to the Civil Service Board, a five-member panel that could reinstate him with a majority vote.

White’s attorney, Jill Craft, has said she is confident the board will overturn White’s firing because city-parish officials violated the police officer’s bill of rights in terminating him.

Murphy J. Foster III, an attorney representing Holden, said a hearing date for White’s appeal has not been finalized, but attorneys are discussing days in the first half of May. Foster said he could see White’s appeal hearing taking up to three days for both sides to present their cases.

The Civil Service Board’s decision may be appealed to state District Court, prolonging the proceedings — and White’s fate — indefinitely. In the meantime, the board will soon begin accepting applications for the chief’s examination.

Applicants must meet one of three criteria to qualify for the test, according to the Office of State Examiner:

Have a bachelor’s degree in business or public administration or a related curriculum with at least 10 years of “progressively responsible experience” in law enforcement, at least two of which include administrative or supervisory responsibilities.

Have a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree in criminal justice, police administration or other law enforcement curriculum and at least 10 years of “progressively responsible experience” in law enforcement.

Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development certificate and 12 years of “progressively responsible experience” in law enforcement, including four as a supervisor.

The exam administered in 2011 included multiple-choice questions — the subject area ranged from police administration and management practices to public relations and crime prevention — and a videotaped job simulation exercise.

Fifty-two people, including several from out of state, applied to take the civil service exam that year. About a dozen were deemed ineligible.

Interim Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. took the test in 2011 and made a list of the top 11 candidates.

A veteran of the Police Department who served as White’s chief of staff, Dabadie has said he intends to take the test again.