Gov. Edwards names permanent state police leader

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards’ choice to be the permanent leader of the Louisiana State Police is the same 27-year veteran of the department who was named interim superintendent in March.

The governor announced Tuesday that he’s keeping Col. Kevin Reeves at the helm of the Department of Public Safety Services.

“Col. Reeves has done an exceptional job at the state police and he has won the praise of his colleagues and law enforcement across the state,” Edwards said in a statement that described the governor as “impressed by his level of professionalism and the new ideas he has brought.”

When he became superintendent, Reeves inherited a state police agency rocked by questions about spending and under financial review. He took over from Mike Edmonson, who retired after coming under increasing criticism for his leadership of the agency.

Reeves said he’s “humbled” by the permanent appointment.

“It is a tremendous responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the citizens of our state, and I shall never take it for granted,” the superintendent said in a statement.

State law requires the Louisiana State Police superintendent to be a trooper from within the agency’s ranks.

Before being named interim superintendent, Reeves commanded a statewide quick reaction force and oversaw patrol operations in central and north Louisiana. He started with the state police in June 1990 as a motorcycle trooper in Baton Rouge and has worked as a squad leader for a mobile field force, an undercover agent on narcotics investigations and a troop commander.

His predecessor, Edmonson, was Louisiana’s longest-serving state police superintendent. Edmonson retired after nine years in the position as pressure mounted about his management.

Concerns had been raised about thousands of dollars the state police spent on a trip to a law enforcement conference in California and about a nonprofit trooper organization’s donations to political candidates despite bans on political contributions from troopers. He also had been under fire from blogs and a social media site allegedly run by anonymous troopers accusing him of misconduct and mishandling agency finances.

Outside auditors are digging into state police travel records.

Without specifically referencing the controversy, Reeves acknowledged the scrutiny on his department.

“As we move forward, accountability begins with me and extends to every employee in the department,” he said. “We know we have some challenges ahead but we will face these challenges together and be stronger because of them. The public demands nothing less.”

Reeves’ appointment wasn’t unexpected. There were suggestions he likely would be the governor’s permanent pick.

Lawmakers were asked in the just-ended legislative session to rewrite Louisiana’s anti-nepotism laws to carve out a special exemption for Reeves’ son to continue to work as a state trooper, even though Reeves was in charge of the agency. That bill has been signed into law.

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

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