Church touts police chief’s efforts in city
The Mid-City Baptist Community Fellowship awarded Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White its first Appreciation Award on Sunday night for his efforts to improve the community and the relationship between the community and the police.
“We chose Chief White because of what he stands for fairness, justice and equitableness,” said the Rev. Conway Knighton, pastor of St. Mary Baptist Church and president of the Mid-City Baptist Community Fellowship. “There’s been a wide divide between the police force and the citizens. Well, he’s out there in the front and he’s making a difference.”
The award was given during a service at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. About 40 members of the 22 churches that are part of the Mid-City Baptist Community Fellowship attended the service.
Knighton said White’s efforts, including the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project, known as BRAVE, have helped improve the relationship between police and the community because the police chief wants to improve people’s lives.
“He wants to see crime go down, he wants to see juveniles change their life and not get locked up, so we just think his efforts need to be rewarded,” Knighton said of why White was selected for the honor.
White, who was visibly moved when he received the award from Knighton and other members of the fellowship, said his faith drives him to try and make the city a better place.
He said he was asked to attend the service, but he did not know about the award beforehand.
“When I fully comprehended what I was here for, I was quite taken back and totally humbled by the outpouring of love and support by a community that has not always embraced the police,” White said after the service.
“But we are slowly bridging that gap because we understand that in order to effectively serve and protect, we have to have the cooperation of the community and without the community’s cooperation, our efforts would pretty much be in vain.”
White has been police chief since May 31, 2011. Before that, he worked in the Louisiana State Police for 21 years where he worked with the SWAT team and the Emergency Operations Center, among others.
He also served as commander of the Emergency Services Unit for Transportation and Environmental Safety and worked in the Baton Rouge Police Department for more than six years in the uniform patrol, traffic and motorcycle divisions.
He is the 27th chief of police for Baton Rouge, following Charles Mondrick, who served as interim chief after Jeff Leduff resigned in December 2010.