BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – Over the last two months, the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) has taken on unparalleled controversies and crises following the divisive Alton Sterling case.
In July, BRPD faced a controversial case where a local man, Alton Sterling, was shot in an altercation with police officers and ultimately died, which the U.S. Justice Department is now investigating.
What followed were protests, boycotts, mainstream media scrutiny and an ever-growing rift in race relations under the Obama Administration.
BRPD was met with economic boycotts from the Nation of Islam, as well as protests from the New Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter, as Breitbart News reported.
What left the police force the most shaken; however, was the murder of three officers who were killed by a gunman almost two weeks after the Sterling case was splashed across national headlines.
Even with the scrutiny, tragedy and an anti-police narrative running through the mainstream media, somehow BRPD has managed to become the unifiers in a community ravaged by natural disaster.
“Even with all the criticism, there’s more in the community that are so supportive of law enforcement,” said Sgt. Dan Coppola in an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas. “With the flooding, the ones that did criticize, all of that has now been set aside.”
Coppola said the police force’s duty from everyday policing to monitoring protests to being targeted and now to dealing with a flooding crisis has not rocked the department, but instead given officers a new role in which they’re fully capable of playing.
“It’s been an effort department-wide,” said Coppola. “A lot of our officers were affected by the flooding, but they’re still out in Baton Rouge helping.”
Roughly 170 officers out of about 680 were impacted by the flooding, with Coppola reiterating the fact that the crisis was not something BRPD was necessarily expecting.
“This is something that we haven’t experienced before,” Coppola said. “We haven’t with this. It’s a different role because we’ve never experienced this amount of flooding.”
After adapting for protests, boycotts, anti-police violence and riots, Coppola said the department quickly adjusted to a flooding disaster, primarily focusing on rescue and now transitioning into a recovery stage where officers are “getting back to their regular duties.”
More than 60,000 homes have been destroyed in the historic floods, with 12 people left dead and thousands of others displaced, similar to that of flooding victims who survived Hurricane Katrina.
Since the floods, organizations like the New Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter, which previously came to visit Baton Rouge in order to protest BRPD, have yet to return in full force as volunteers.
John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.