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Baton Rouge Shuts Down Street Crimes Unit

Baton Rouge, La., police have shut down their street crimes unit, fired one of its officers, and closed an interrogation center after a newly filed lawsuit claimed the unit used the center to beat a suspect out of view of normal surveillance, the Advocate reports. The city's mayor, Sharon Weston Broome, ordered the street unit shutdown, saying an investigation had already turned up "enough disturbing details" to threaten the progress she and Police Chief Murphy Paul have made in repairing community trust in recent years. “We have come too far to have this relationship eroded by a few bad actors," Broome said at a press conference announcing that the nine officers and supervisors would be reassigned to patrol from the street crimes unit, which focused on the city's most violent areas.

A federal lawsuit filed two days earlier alleged that street crimes officers took a 21-year-old man to a "torture warehouse known to BRPD staff as 'the BRAVE Cave,'" where he was severely beaten off camera. BRPD Administrative Chief Myron Daniels has said the facility had been in use for decades to process “thousands of suspects” and evidence for the narcotics division and other covert units, noting there was “nothing secretive” about the warehouse. The lawsuit showed an image of the bruised suspect sitting on a folding chair in the middle of a largely vacant warehouse and a recording of officers saying beforehand that he would be brought to "brave cave," raising alarms of secret interrogations. The suspect's mother said she reported the allegations to BRPD months ago and the chief told her the department would investigate, but she never heard from them again.


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