A 26-year-old photo is circulating the internet showing Baton Rouge Police Department officers wearing dark face paint. 

According to the Department, the officers were undercover at the time in a drug dealer sting operation, and the photo should not necessarily be interpreted as officers in blackface.  

The Baton Rouge Police Department issued the following apology and statement

“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 photographs.”

The Department said that nothing could be done administratively concerning the surfaced photos, but officers would not be allowed to wear any of the pictured outfits today. 

“Administratively, the department cannot apply existing policies to conduct that happened before the policies were in place. Policies that were existing at the time of the behavior would have to be applied. The department is bound by the Louisiana Law Enforcement Bill of Rights, which places a timeline on administrative investigations related to officer conduct.”

Baton Rouge's mayor also shared similar statements:

"While this may have been department-approved 25 years ago, that does not make it right," Sharon Weston Broome said. "Blackface is more than just a costume. It invokes a painful history in this country and it is not appropriate in any situation."

The Baton Rouge Police Department will be implementing new training practices that were already scheduled before the photo made waves around the internet. 

“Our BRPD Training Staff recently returned from Oakland Stockton, California where they received training on Procedural Justice Policing. The Procedural Justice Program will be part of the training academy curriculum for new BRPD officers, as well as our annual in-service training for all Baton Rouge Police Officers. The Baton Rouge Police Department is diligently working to apply 21st Century Policing best practices and standards to our agency.”

This is the latest in a string of blackface controversies in the government sphere, including Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's yearbook photo. 

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