Holden's handling of White's firing may complicate search for replacement

Holden's handling of White's firing may complicate search for replacement

The damage control that Mayor Kip Holden displays over the next 60 days is going to be the most interesting aspect of the fallout from Monday's official firing of Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White, says local political consultant and pollster Bernie Pinsonat.

"What fool from outside the police department will take the job to begin with?" says Pinsonat, who speculates Holden had grown tired of the ongoing battle between White and the police union and chose to sacrifice the police chief after less than two years on the job. "After this fiasco, what kind of police chief do you end up with?"

On Wednesday, the mayor's office confirmed Lt. Carl Dabadie as interim police chief. Dabadie has been taking on police chief duties since White was informed on Feb. 6 of his impending termination. Rannah Gray, who doesn't work in the mayor's office but managed Holden's recent political campaign and stays in constant contact with him, says she doesn't believe there was a clash between White and the police union.

Holden, Gray adds, is in his third and final term and does not want to be remembered for political infighting with the police chief. But the mayor had to fire White based on his knowledge of the inner workings of the police department, she says, even if it proves to be an unpopular decision at a time when the city is ramping up efforts to fight crime and lower the homicide rate.

"I don't think there's any question the mayor is disappointed that [White] didn't work out," Gray says.
Pinsonat says most police chiefs have trouble with the union and that Holden should have known bringing in a police chief from outside the ranks would be problematic.

Holden "wouldn't have done this last year" when he was in the midst of campaigning for a third term, Pinsonat says of White's firing. "I can assure you, he wouldn't have been re-elected if he had dropped this bomb about 90 days before the election."

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