Investigators find that DeRidder’s officer’s comments about candidates did not violate state law

Investigators find that DeRidder’s officer’s comments about candidates did not violate state law
(Source: (Image: Hawaii News Now))

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - An investigation into whether a DeRidder Police Department officer’s comments about candidates for Beauregard Sheriff has found that he did not violate state law.

However, the officer did violate department policy because the audio on his body cam was not on during the traffic stop at a DeRidder gas station.

Beauregard candidate Joe Chapa filed the complaint in regard to the traffic stop on July 26. The driver of the vehicle, a friend of Chapa’s, had a bumper sticker on his vehicle promoting Chapa.

Chapa is one of five candidates running for sheriff in Beauregard. The others are: John Gott, Mark Herford, Jim Jacobsen and Rob Moreland.

The investigation found that the 8-minute conversation between the driver and the officer appeared to be consensual, according to investigation results released by Deputy Chief Christopher Rudy. Although there is no audio, both parties “appeared to be non-argumentative and just having a normal conversation.”

Both the officer and the driver were interviewed as part of the investigation and a surveillance video from the gas station was obtained.

The officer had previously reported that his body camera was sometimes malfunctioning, but the department policy states that audio should be recorded even in situations in which video is not possible and that “If the system is malfunctioning, the officer shall take the vehicle out of service unless a supervisor requests the vehicle remain in service.”

The officer was given a letter of reprimand due to the lack of audio

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