Alexandria Mayor disputes reports on APD Police Chief change

Claims News Channel 5′s lack of access to information is inaccurate, despite attempts to get answers
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 9:49 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 10:12 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - On Thursday, March 23, Alexandria City Hall announced Alexandria Police Chief Ronney Howard will be named to a newly created position called the ‘Director of Public Safety Special Services.’ The announcement comes after Tuesday night’s city council meeting in which Mayor Jacques Roy said there would be “a change in the police chief shortly.”

The new position will be over specific departments, including the Office of Gun Violence and Juvenile Services.

On Tuesday, March 21, when Mayor Roy made that statement, he told the council that he could not explain further on who would be taking over as APD Police Chief yet, but he also did not elaborate at the time on why Chief Howard would be leaving the position or where he would be going. City council members did not ask any follow-up questions.

News Channel 5 attempted to get more information on the change after Mayor Roy left the council meeting early through closed city council chambers. We asked the city attorney, Jonathon Goins, if it would be possible to get Mayor Roy for an interview for follow-up questions but were told he was unavailable.

Instead, following the meeting, we emailed our follow-up questions. Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Michael Caffery responded Wednesday, March 22 that “Mayor Roy will make a formal announcement at a later date.” That announcement came later on Thursday afternoon.

However, prior to receiving more information, on Wednesday, March 22, News Channel 5 reached out to the Fire and Police Civil Service Board, which represents police officers that are classified and coordinates the testing process for the new chief, to get more clarification on questions we were unable to get answers to the night before.

The attorney for the board, Brain Cespiva, told us that they had not been formally told there would be a change in the police chief position. However, he explained that the change would require a formal resignation letter to leave the department.

As of Thursday, a resignation letter for Chief Howard had not been filed.

On Thursday, we spoke to Mayor Roy for the first time since the announcement on the change Tuesday night.

During the six-minute interaction, the mayor claimed that our reporting was inaccurate and misled the public about what the change would actually mean for Chief Howard.

“Ronney Howard is a valued member of our police and will be staying on in a role that is really increasing the portfolio of things he’s going to be doing,” said Mayor Roy. “I think that gets out into the community and does damage, both with him, his family and other folks.”

Despite further information on the process of how the change would unfold coming from Cespiva, who represents civil service workers, including Chief Howard, Mayor Roy disputed that Cespiva is a source who can provide that information.

He said our claims that we “don’t have access” to information are inaccurate. Mayor Roy told News Channel 5 his office had not received any questions on the change to answer.

“It’s not true that you are telling the public that you do not have access,” said Mayor Roy. “You have not sent us a single question on this to answer. Have you sent us a question?”

However, News Channel 5 has sent multiple emails in an effort to receive more information on several matters, including two, separate emails on the change of APD police chief.

The first email was sent 30 minutes after the council meeting concluded. As we mentioned before, a response was not given until the following day at 3:23 p.m. with a reply from the deputy chief administrative officer that “Mayor Roy will make a formal announcement at a later date.”

When the announcement was released Thursday afternoon, News Channel 5 once again sent follow-up questions via email on the change. The email was sent before our interview with Mayor Roy at an event.

Further, Mayor Roy said he left the meeting after a “long council meeting” and not that he was avoiding answering questions.

The city responded to our Thursday email at 6:50 p.m., which came after our interview with the mayor.

They confirmed that Chief Howard would not be able to serve as Chief of Police while in his new position, meaning that he will be stepping down. We were told that this move would take place before the end of the month but did not receive an answer as to who would serve as the interim chief.

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