Did LSP’s Air Support Unit con the LSPC regarding hiring from within and the real reason for seeking a change away from flight hours for promotions?

Louisiana State Police Commission Member Brian Crawford.

When we published this feature entailing former LSP Col. Kevin Reeves’ granting of pay raises to his inner circle of cronies (including himself), we largely passed over emails we’d received from LSP regarding pilots in the Air Support Unit of LSP receiving pay raises.  Here’s all we said entailing those pilot pay raises:

The remainder of the response to our public records request deals with pay adjustments for pilots which we believe we recall being discussed by the LSPC together with a few emails entailing adjusting those salaries.

Once we posted this feature entailing Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s written commitment to pursue felony charges against LSP Air Support Pilot Michael Satcher II regarding the domestic abuse charges he faces in Rapides Parish, we got the attention of some folk with integral knowledge of LSP’s Air Support Unit.  Those individuals, with whom we’ve now engaged in extensive correspondence, expressed “elation” that all of the “corruption” at the LSP Air Support Unit is finally being exposed.

[Sidebar:  Our most-recent feature (prior to this one) revealed the fact that, despite Satcher’s arrest on October 12, 2019, LSP only got around to initiating an administrative investigation the week our feature was published.]

When we made public our request for documents pertaining to LSP Air Support promotion practices, that’s when the proverbial floodgates opened wide!  Let’s take a moment to revisit one very specific item we requested of LSP:

  • Any and all documentation pertaining any efforts underway for Steven Lee to hire any civilian pilot onto LSP’s payroll along with any documentation that substantiates the fact that an LSP Pilot must have served as an LSP Trooper for three (3) years prior to being eligible for a pilot’s position within LSP;

As one might imagine, we didn’t just fall out of bed and say, “let’s ask for this just for the heck of it.”  We have now received a plethora of material from individuals who clearly have very integral knowledge and details of the operations of LSP’s Air Support Unit.

Those individuals have also alleged that LSP has been actively seeking to hire a private pilot in apparent direct violation of LSP policy as reflected in our request above.

Our sources indicate that they do not know at this juncture whether the individual has actually been hired or is in the final stages of being hired.  Furthermore, since we’re awaiting responses to our public records request above, we’re going to refrain from referencing the individual’s name even though we have been provided with his name and his prior place of employment until his recent retirement from that entity.

As mentioned above, we said we “believe we recalled” the pilot salary increases being discussed by the LSPC.  We found the act of trying to find that discussion, however, much like searching for a needle in a haystack.  That’s when a retired LSP Trooper (and perhaps most prominent LSP watchdog), Leon “Bucky” Millet, volunteered to help.  Just as an aside, it was Millet whom former LSPC contract attorney T. Taylor Townsend is said to have stated to one LSPC member upon Millet’s first attending an LSPC meeting, “Don’t worry….its been my experience that people like him typically show up at one meeting and then you never see them again.”  Boy, did Townsend ever call that one dead wrong, or what?

Right off the bat, Millet said that he certainly recalled being present when the matter was discussed, which meant it had to be pre-COVID.  That’s because Millet hasn’t attended a meeting since the pandemic broke but is anxious for its conclusion so he can resume attending.  He therefore committed that he would do the research to find the meeting at which the discussion transpired.  True to his word (which we’ve found to always be the case entailing Millet), he called us about an hour later and said, “It was the November 8, 2018 meeting.”  Sound Off’s Burns responded to Milket with, “Thanks.  I’ll take it from there!”

First, from the agenda for that meeting:

3. Request of the Department of Public Safety, Office of State Police, for one (1) unclassified Command Pilot position, in accordance with State Police Commission Rule 4.1(d)2, effective November 8, 2018. (Representative from the agency to be available to answer any question for the Commission.)
4. Request from the Department of Public Safety, Office of State Police, to edit the job specifications for Pilot, Senior Pilot, and Master Pilot to reflect the change in reporting relationships as well as edit the minimum qualification requirements for the
Pilot series, effective November 8, 2018. (Representative from the agency to be available to answer any question for the Commission.)

We draw our subscribers’ attention to the parenthetical disclosures above entailing an LSP Representative being available from the agency to answer LSPC members’ questions.  One individual present was Steven Lee, who, at least on paper (there’s a reason we’re saying that which will likely be fully exposed in a subsequent feature as we’re conducting a very thorough investigative series on the Air Support Unit of LSP), heads the LSP Air Support Unit.  Lee was accompanied by Mark Morrison.  LSPC Commission member Brian Crawford asked a very specific question regarding whether the requested position outlined in agenda item # 3 above would be filled from within or by someone outside of LSP.  Let’s take a look at Crawford posing that question and Morrison’s response, shall we?

Mark Morrison responds to LSPC Member Brian Crawford’s inquiry of whether the requested pilot position will be filled from within LSP ranks or whether someone from outside the agency will fill the position.

In our opinion (and we think any objective person would agree), Morrison’s response can only be interpreted to mean that all pilot positions are filled from within LSP ranks since he indicates that “first and foremost” the criterion for hiring pilots is that the applicant be a trooper.   He also reinforces that policy by stating that, “being a Trooper is the bond that links all of us together.”  Morrison also voluntarily adds that another commonality shared by LSP Air Support pilots is that, “We all started at Troop A.”

With that being the case, it will sure make the response to our public records request item above interesting.  If that response comes back as so many sources have now indicated to us that it will (that active efforts have been initiated and are very far along if not at full fruition to hire a private pilot for a current opening), it will certainly be interesting for someone from the Air Support Unit to explain.  After all, the statement was made to the LSPC on November 8, 2018, and it would beg the question as to why two years later there is an apparent effort to defy what was specifically stated to be LSP Policy to Crawford and the other members upon Crawford asking the question.

We’ll now direct everyone’s attention to item number four taken from that November 8, 2018 agenda.  Let’s take a look at what many of our sources entailing LSP Air Support’s operations have classified as nothing short of a “con job” perpetrated on the LSPC.  Let’s examine that segment of discussions on that matter now, shall we?:

Morrison explains the rationale behind the request of the LSPC entailing item # 4 dealing with lowering the number of flight hours required for pilot promotions.

One of our sources with integral knowledge of LSP Air Support operations stated to us:  “Air support has long history of hiring ‘good ole boys’ not most qualified.  This is a safety concern to everyone especially LSP personnel and the Governor and staff who flies frequently.”

Our sources have indicated that, contrary to what Morrison stated above, the motivation behind passing over pilots with more hours of flight time in order to promote pilots with fewer hours (which Morrison conveniently never even mentioned would be a consequence of the requested LSPC “edit,”) is because the real reason for the edit to lower the hours was to enable the promotion of pilots with close ties to LSP Air Support’s top brass.   Prior to the requested “edit,” the ability to make such promotions was hampered due to the extensive focus on flight hours as the dominant factor for obtaining such promotions.

Our public records request linked above, when combined with a supplemental request which we’ll link shortly, should shed light on the degree to which such promotions were awarded to pilots with fewer flight hours over other candidates posting for the same opening who had more flight hours.  Since the “edit” became effective November 8, 2018, it will be interesting to see if any trend started shortly thereafter.

Also, at the 1:55 mark of the preceding video, Morrison draws attention to the fact that LSP has a “diverse set of aircraft.”  We’re curious to know whether that “diverse set of aircraft” includes fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft.  Accordingly, we made a public records request of LSP seeking evidence that LSP presently has or has ever been in possession of any fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft.  We also asked to see invoices that LSP paid for any of its pilots’ tuition to attend school(s) for courses offering fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft certification.

We’ll report on our findings of whether LSP has possession of (or has ever had possession of) such fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft.  We’ll also reveal whether any pilots had their school tuition paid by LSP to obtain training and certification on aircraft that are actually not a part of that “diverse set of aircraft” (i.e. fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft).  The results should be interesting, at least based on what our sources have indicated to us should be the results of our public records request.

As we conclude this feature, we feel compelled to point out an error we made on the public records request we made public on one of the linked features above.  We apologized to LSP in making an amended and expanded public records request on November 16, 2020.  We’ll draw attention to our error now:

I supplied the name of Donnie Guidroz when the correct name should have been Donnie Guitreau.

We at Sound Off Louisiana are human, and we certainly regret the error, which was pointed out to us by yet another source with integral knowledge of LSP Air Support operations who was most gracious and professional in pointing out our above error to us.

It was also that individual who pointed out our error who prompted us to add an item on the amended and expanded request linked above, and we’ll also focus on that one other item we requested:

 Any documentation evidencing LSP Chief of Staff Doug Cain having a period of separation of service from LSP.

While that final item has no bearing on LSP Air Support Operations, we just decided we’d keep our subscribers informed by letting them know it has been requested.  Again, we’ll report on any findings we obtain in response to that requested item.

This is going to be the first of an as-yet-undermined number of investigative features drilling down deep into the operations of LSP’s Air Support Unit.  We appreciate all of our loyal subscribers taking the time to view and read our features, and we trust that you find them informative.

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