During his year-end press conference this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards was asked about the legislative auditor's report on former State Police commander Mike Edmonson. The governor says he's not convinced Edmonson's use of the residence at the state police compound was improper.
"I told him I expected him to stay in in the residence, because that's the best place for him to be," Edwards explained.
As for the other allegations, Edwards says, "Obviously, it's very concerning, very troubling."
But the governor says he's certain Edmonson’s successor, Col. Kevin Reeves, is turning things around.
"I have 100 percent confidence in Col. Reeves and in his leadership abilities. And I believe the professionalism of that agency will be fully restored," the governor stated, unequivocally.
When Col. Reeves addressed the Baton Rouge Press Club earlier this month, he shared his "wish list" for the agency, which begins with the ability to hire more state police personnel.
"We're facing a manpower cliff here in the spring, of losing 270 personnel that are eligible to retire," Reeves explained. "That's a lot of knowledge and ability that we will lose."
He says they also need to acquire modern equipment and the computer programs to support it.
"Technology has moved forward and we’ve lagged behind, and we need to catch up," he said, and then gave a specific example: e-ticketing.
"“When we write citations now, there’s four copies: one copy for the violation, one copy for the clerk of court, one for the district attorney and one to retain within state police. And we still sort those out by hand."
He says in addition to e-ticketing, they need a new records management system, and computer-aided dispatch, but all of that takes money.
"The cost to the CAD system, RMS and e-ticket would be approximately $11-million. It was in our budget last year, and with the cuts we lost it."