Civil service won’t revisit complaint

The local civil service board will not hear a second request by former Baton Rouge police Lt. Richard Sobers that it open an investigation into the president of the local police union.

Sobers petitioned the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board to investigate whether Cpl. Chris Stewart exhibited conduct unbecoming an officer in November by posting messages on Facebook about Mayor-President Kip Holden winning re-election.

Sobers, who supported former Metro Councilman Mike Walker in the election, said he perceived the messages to be taunting and a form of intimidation.

“It appeared clear to me that Officer Stewart was flaunting his position and power as president of the union and that by being outspoken during the election, I had created enemies,” Sobers wrote in a January complaint to the board.

The civil service board in December rejected Sobers’ claim that Stewart ran afoul of civil service rules prohibiting participation in political campaigns. Sobers said his second complaint differed in that it accused Stewart of violating a departmental policy that forbids conduct unbecoming an officer.

But the board’s chairman, Sgt. Bryan Taylor, said he is against the board opening proactive investigations that “circumvent” the chief’s office. “It’s been settled and we stick by our stance,” he said.

The board’s attorney, Charles Cusimano, wrote Sobers in a letter dated March 8 that his most recent complaint raised the same concerns as the first.

“We sincerely appreciate your interest and concern in the leadership and operation of the police department,” Cusimano wrote in the letter. “We also appreciate your coming before the Board in December to voice your concerns.”

Sobers on Thursday said the decision appeared to be “another tactic to delay or even derail my attempt to have the actions of Chris Stewart addressed.”

Stewart has said he found the complaint to be “a little trivial.”

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