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Baton Rouge Mayor Reacts To U.S. Decision Not To Charge Police Officers


And for more on how people in Baton Rouge are reacting to this news, we have Sharon Weston Broome on the line. She is the mayor-president of Baton Rouge. Welcome to the program.

SHARON WESTON BROOME: Thank you very much.

MCEVERS: As we just heard from our colleague Greg Allen, we have learned some pretty shocking new information about what happened last July. Officer Blane Salamoni up until now has been on administrative leave. Knowing what you know now, should he be fired?

BROOME: Well, I will tell you this - that many in our community are understandably disappointed, frustrated and of course angry. I have not seen the video. I believe that before I make that decision, I should have access to the video. The process is working right now, as your reporter stated, with the state attorney general. And so as that process moves forward, I will continue to make calls for not only peace in our community but justice as well.

MCEVERS: Are you satisfied with how federal authorities are cooperating with your office and with the state?

BROOME: Well, of course the federal authorities here locally have tried to keep us informed of their progress. Unfortunately, as you probably know, yesterday the story was leaked by The Washington Post, and...

MCEVERS: That this case was not going to be prosecuted by the federal Justice Department.

BROOME: Exactly. And of course I was appalled by that along with most of our community. And especially you can imagine how Alton Sterling's family felt reading that and getting a media alert on their phone about it. And so that was very disheartening and unsettling for this entire community and of course for me as well.

MCEVERS: How are people in the community now taking the news?

BROOME: Well, of course as - many expected the potential results that came from the federal government. But they are still very, very concerned about justice. They are - some are talking about peaceful protests. I will say that here in Baton Rouge, traditionally we have had protests that have been peaceful and been done peacefully. And so I'm expecting that will continue if people choose to protest.

But I will also say that folks want to believe that justice is attainable as well. And so we all have to be focused on justice and equity being the standard here in our community and not only here in our community but throughout this nation as well.

MCEVERS: How likely do you think it is that the state will bring charges in this case?

BROOME: I do not know of course. There are some concerns by many individuals about what will take place on the state level. I think it would be preemptive for me to say at this point in time. I tell you what my hope is. My hope is that the state will indeed look at this case very seriously and move forward and help this community and, more importantly, this family bring closure to this issue.

MCEVERS: Since you became mayor in December, I understand you've worked with the police department to change policies on when to use deadly force. How is that going?

BROOME: Well...

MCEVERS: Quickly.

BROOME: It is going well. You're absolutely right. The first - my first week in office - I've been in office since January 2. And my first week, recognizing the challenges that we've had in our community with police and citizens, I initiated a - an advisory group, and we came up with some police reform measures based on national best standards concerning use of force policies.

MCEVERS: Sharon Weston Broome is the mayor-president of Baton Rouge, La. Thank you so much for your time.

BROOME: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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