Guest Contributor: Father Richard “Rick” Andrus, SVD of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church
The fact that Officer Robert Moruzzi continues to serve on the Baton Rouge Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board is a moral disgrace....
In 2014, Moruzzi was the subject of another federal lawsuit for excessive force. While serving a narcotics warrant, Officer Moruzzi grabbed Brett Percle, a 24-year-old bystander who was not the subject of the warrant, forced his face to the concrete and stomped on the back of Percle’s head, knocking out his teeth. Percle sued, and a jury found that Officer Moruzzi had committed assault and battery, forcing the city to pay a $75,000 settlement for his actions.
Shortly after he bashed in Percle’s teeth, the police union gave Moruzzi its “Medal for Merit” and selected him to be its representative on the civil service board. Now he’s the board’s chair.
But the point isn’t to cast blame or look back. The point is for all of us to say now, with a united voice: Moruzzi must resign. We must reform our Civil Service law to remove the features that insulate officers from accountability. We must not rest or flinch until we fix this broken system.
[Photo Credit: Tony Webster/Minnesota Reformer]
We Can’t Reform Police Departments if Civil Service Boards Tolerate Abuse, Louisiana Illuminator [pdf]
In 2015, an effort to carve out a southeast portion of East Baton Rouge to form a new city called St. George failed to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot.
This year, proponents returned with a similar proposal to breakaway, but under significantly different conditions. Together Baton Rouge leaders point out that figures utilized by proponents of the St. George breakaway effort don't quite add up. In addition to a significant drop in ethnic diversity within newly drawn lines, residents would likely be faced with immediate tax hikes and public safety subsidies to make the finances work.
Civic academies about the upcoming vote have drawn significant crowds, including one session (photo above) at St. Margaret's Episcopal which drew 150 residents and congregational leaders. A teaching on public finance, delivered by local professors, informed small group conversations led by local leaders.
According to Together Baton Rouge,"We heard from a variety of voices and opinions, but the one thing that was clear is there is a strong desire for more honest information about what the true cost of the breakaway would mean, both for those in St. George and the larger EBR Parish." The vote on whether to form a breakaway city is set for October 12th.