Bill Johannessen, nominated to serve Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board
Bill Johannessen, nominated to serve Baton Rouge Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board

EBR resident with “heart for public service” appointed to Police & Fire Civil Service Board

Brandon Williams, former chairman of Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board
Brandon Williams, former chairman of Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board

BATON ROUGE — The East Baton Rouge Metro Council voted 7-1 to appoint Bill Johannessen to the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board.

“I am appreciative of the support from the Metro Council in their appointment of me to the Fire & Police Civil Service Board. I look forward to serving our community in this position,” Johannessen told UWK.

The special meeting was called on April 15th to replace the Board’s Chairman, Brandon O. Williams, who was ruled ineligible to continue to serve. This move by the Metro Council brings an end to a years’ long battle between Williams, the council and the Baton Rouge Police Union.

The Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board is comprised of five board members, each appointed by an entity in EBR Parish, one of them appointed by the EBR Metro Council. The board is meant to provide an unbiased process for police officers and firefighters in the parish to appeal any discipline rendered by their respective chiefs.

Brandon Williams vacates position

Williams has been the subject of numerous UWK reports related to various topics including serving multiple boards at one time and the BR Police Union raising questions after his repeated felony arrests.

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During the controversy, Brandon Williams sued the council, the very body who appointed him, asking a court to decide whether or not he could serve on the Civil Service Board while also sitting as a board member for the La. Housing Corporation.

Though Williams initially prevailed at the 19th Judicial District Trial court, an appeal by the City to the First Circuit Court of Appeal reversed that decision and found that Williams was in violation of the law by serving on both Boards. However, he refused to step down from his position. When Williams asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to decide the issue, the court refused to hear his case. Williams has since resigned from the chairman position but has not stepped down from the board.

Williams’ Replacement Bill Johannessen

Since the issue has now been decided by the courts, the EBR Metro Council moved to replace Williams. The person nominated by some of the Metro Council members was Bill Johannessen, a 9-year veteran of the Louisiana National Guard and a resident of East Baton Rouge Parish since he was a teenager.

Johannessen is a former business owner and currently works for a local non-profit. He is also a father of two college students, and has been married to his wife for 25 years. Bill Johannessen is also a Deacon at First Presbyterian Church here in Baton Rouge.

Bill Johannessen, candidate for Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board
Bill Johannessen, candidate for Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board

“Bill is a man of integrity, a strong sense of right and wrong. He has a heart for public service. He is deeply invested in the East Baton Rouge community and I believe he’s the best match for the job at this time. We need people who will do the work, who will listen to the cases that come before them and balance everything that comes before them to make a wise decision. Bill is up to that job,” Councilwoman Laurie Adams told UWK related to Bill Johannessen’s nomination.

The special meeting was called by Councilwoman Adams, as well as Councilmen Brandon Noel and Aaron Moak.

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