New BRPD chief promises more transparency, cameras and conversations in first 100 days

BATON ROUGE, La. – Thomas “T.J.” Morse, Jr., a police commander with over 20-years of experience with the Baton Rouge Police Department, was officially sworn in this morning as the city’s new chief of police.

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East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome introduced the new chief and commended him for this leadership, which she credited for resulting in the most diverse training academy classes in the history of the police department. “[It’s] a significant milestone for shaping the future of law enforcement in Baton Rouge,” the Mayor-President noted.

Morse was officially sworn in with his wife and children by his side.

The new chief started by thanking God, his wife and their children, his parents, family and friends for their support throughout his career and a “renewed strength and sense of purpose” as he embarked on his new role.

After expressing gratitude for the honor and responsibility of being entrusted to serve as Baton Rouge police chief, Morse vowed to work with the mayor towards “greater decreases in violent crime.”

Morse, a 20-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department directly addressed law enforcement and first responders and became emotional when addressing his fellow BRPD officers.

“To the men and women of the Baton Rouge Police Department, it will be a true honor to serve as your chief … and lead this amazing department that I love,” Morse said as he choked up.

“I will always strive to show everyone that the Baton Rouge Police Department is full of some of the best criminal justice professionals in the country. I’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support that I’ve received through calls, texts and just walking around headquarters in the halls.”

Morse replaces former BRPD Chief Murphy Paul who announced his retirement in July.


The first 100 days

The new chief takes the helm of the Baton Rouge Police Department, which has been marred in the past by scandal, lawsuits and low morale among officers, according to insiders. 

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In his first 100 days as chief, Morse promised to move the department towards what he referred to as “21st century policing” with a deeper focus on technology, transparency and community engagement.

“In my first 100 days, I will prioritize our current technology programs and the partnerships,” Morse said. “The full-time crime center ConnectBlue and efforts like the Page-Rice camera initiative named to honor the young lives of Devin Page, Jr., and Allie Rice, they have all helped us increase our investigative capabilities.”

The Baton Rouge Police Department implemented over 100 cameras through the Page-Rice camera program and Morse would like to add 100 more during his first 100 days as chief.

Chief Morse also pledged to be more transparent about officer incidents and investigations in alignment with 21st century policing practices and lead an agency that is, in his words, better for its transparency.

“When officers have committed an act of wrongdoing, BRPD will remain transparent.” Morse vowed. “Sharing evidence and videos as quickly as possible, whether it affirms or disproves the claim.”

Engaging with the community is another critical component of the chief’s 100-day action plan aimed at strengthening ties between people and the police.

“As your new Baton Rouge chief of police, I choose to dedicate a great amount of time in my first 100 days to listening and learning more about you, more about your needs, your children’s needs, your neighborhoods, and how the Baton Rouge Police Department can continue making strides to best serve you,” Morse affirmed.

The chief said he will make his office more accessible to the public, and he plans to have more serious conversations with members of the community at churches, centers, and in public parks where he’s met with people in recent weeks.

Focusing on ‘good works’ and leadership training

The chief also wants to highlight the good things officers do in the community from performing life-saving CPR on a child to positive interactions with kids at local sporting events or in the supermarket.

“The fact is less than 1% of officers tarnish the badge we wear proudly on our chest. I can vow that under my leadership, I will commit to frequently speaking about the other 99%,” said Morse. “We will be transparent about the good works too. The 99% need you to know about them and their efforts and I commit to find better ways to spotlight them in my first 100 days as chief.”

In his previous role as a commander in training services, Morse said he learned the value of being on the leading edge of continuous police training. As chief, he wants Baton Rouge police officers to receive nearly double the hours required by Louisiana and ensure they learn de-escalation techniques in addition to scenario-based tactical training.

Leadership training is also a key component of the chief’s road map.

“We will also continue to ensure every officer receives procedural justice, fair and bias-free policing and duty to intervene classes,” Morse said. “Supervisors, or officers close to assuming a supervisor role, will also be required to receive newly developed leadership courses.”

Chief Morse unveiled his official first 100-day roadmap within the week on the BRPD official website.

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