The picture, shared by The Rouge Collection, shows two officers attempting to disguise themselves as Black men during a department-approved narcotics sting 26 years ago, the department admitted. The same men also dressed up as women during prostitution stings.
Police chief Murphy Paul apologized for the photograph Monday:
“Blackface photographs are inappropriate and offensive. They were inappropriate then and are inappropriate today. The Baton Rouge Police Department would like to apologize to our citizens and to anyone who may have been offended by the photograph.”
Paul added that such actions would not be tolerated by the force today.
“Today, we would not allow our officers to wear blackface in an official capacity under any circumstances. We have policies in place to prevent our officers from engaging in this type of behavior both on and off-duty,” he said.
Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome also issued a statement Monday:
“While this may have been department-approved 25 years ago, that does not make it right. Blackface is more than just a costume. It invokes a painful history in this country and it is not appropriate in any situation.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.