LSP Major Frank Besson (photo courtesy of WAFB news).
LSP Major Robert Hodges (photo courtesy of WAFB news).
Subscribers and casual visitors to this blog may recall that, after providing Gov. Elect Jeff Landry a week to savor his primary victory, we then openly posed the question of whether Landry would perpetuate a 15-year downward spiral of LSP by appointing Frank Besson (a/k/a Edmonson 2.0) as LSP Colonel.
As we indicated in that feature, doing so would certainly appease the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, which has backed Besson for a protracted period dating back to Gov. Edwards having to name a replacment for former Col. Kevin Reeves.
We’re going to again present the video associated with that post for review at this time:
10/22/23: Burns provides an admonition to Governor-Elect Jeff Landry entailing his LSP Colonel appointment similarly to that he provided to then-Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards on December 8, 2015. [Our apologies for the intermittent blurriness of the video.]
According to this WAFB (Channel 9 in Baton Rouge) feature written two days ago (November 14, 2023) by its News Director, Robb Hays, Landry is close to making an announcement on his choice to head LSP, and the top names are Majors Frank Besson (gee, what a surprise!!) and Robert Hodges. From the feature:
As Governor-elect Jeff Landry prepares to announce a new leader for Louisiana State Police, the names of two longtime troopers continue to surface as strong possibilities for the job.
They include Major Robert Hodges and Major Frank Besson.
Hodges, a 28-year veteran of Louisiana State Police (LSP), currently oversees Region 2 Patrol. Region 2 encompasses eighteen southern parishes and includes Troop C in Gray, Troop D in Lake Charles, and Troop I in Lafayette. He and Landry have been friends for many years.
Besson, who has been with LSP for 24 years, oversees the agency’s Emergency Services Unit which includes areas like crisis response, air support, and the LSP SWAT team. Besson is a former president of the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association.
The job is a cabinet-level position in the governor’s administration. Landry is expected to announce his choice by the end of this month.
The names of other top contenders could still surface as Landry’s transition team continues interviewing people for the job this week.
Should Landry choose either one of these two gentlemen, we can assure him that it is going to go over like a lead balloon with a vast swath of the active troopers serving at LSP; furthermore, it will reinforce among many recently-departed troopers (many leaving in droves with 3-15 years of tenure, which has reportedly been unprecedented at LSP) that they made the right decision in bailing out of LSP.
With LSP now having been on a 15-year downward spiral which has cast it to lows the general public (and many active and retired troopers) could have never fathomed, the universal sentiments among troopers (and recently-departed troopers) who have reached out to us and commented on the upcoming selection is that neither of these two gentlemen has the leadership traits to right the ship. Further, because of their own alleged past issues, they will most certainly not have the respect of current troopers serving at LSP.
We could supply many more (especially on Besson), but here are just a few of the communications we’ve received entailing these two gentlemen:
- Word on the street is Landry is going to choose Besson to head LSP. He’s the one who, when promoted to Captain at Troop C, his first order of business was promoting his brother Simon.
- Internally, Louisiana State Police is “shaking” at the idea of Major Frank Besson, who is the front runner, becoming the next Superintendent of LSP. He would ABSOLUTELY set LSP back to a Mike Edmonson era.
- Besson has a history of internal complaints due to lack of leadership and bias.
- I really feel bad for Landry for the mess he’s walking into, but it’s making all of the troopers nervous knowing who is politicking (Besson) to get the top job.
- Just about everyone at LSP at the rank of Captain or above (Major is the next step up after Captain) has done nothing in their career except kiss ass.
Regarding point # 3 above, there is this feature regarding fired whistleblower Carl Cavalier’s lawsuit against LSP. From that feature:
On May 5, 2018, Cavalier alleges to have experienced racial discrimination from his chain of command, specifically from Major Frank Besson, Sergeant Simon Besson, Lieutenant Andre Bienvenue and Lieutenant Matt Trahan.
Cavalier alleges that between August 11, 2018, and August 24, 2018, he was contacted by Lieutenant Draper Crain and Lt. Colonel Kendrick Van Buren and advised that he should request a transfer to the Bureau of Investigations. Cavalier met with Major Darrin Naquin regarding possible resolutions to the discrimination on August 24, 2018, then requested his transfer on August, 27, the suit says.
We at Sound Off Louisiana have our own past issue with Besson. In 2014, Burns (who at that time had no blog) assisted two other bloggers in providing video coverage of the Louisiana State Police Retirement Board (LSPRB)’s, of which Besson has been the long-time Chairman‘s, heel dragging on the infamous “Edmonson Amendment,” which was a covert effort on the part of former LSP Colonel Mike Edmonson to cram an approximate $55,000/year pension benefit boost straight down taxpayers’ throats.
One of those bloggers, the late C. B. Forgotston, identified five (5) Members of the Board who would, according to Forgotston(whose ability to be accurate on LSP matters was uncanny) fight tooth and nail to actively block any effort by the Board to litigate the matter in an effort to undo Edmonson’s sneaky act of squeezing the Amendment into a wholly-unrelated bill during a Conference Committee at the 11th hour for Edmonson to get the massive increase to his pension. From the preceding feature identifying the five (5) members:
Frank Besson (Chairman)
Charlie Dupuy (Edmonson’s long-time Chief of Staff)
Then-Louisiana State Treasurer (now U. S. Senator) John Kennedy, who was close friends with the late C. B. Forgotston and who also served on the LSPRB, expressed his frustration at the whole matter, and he specifically dressed down Frank Besson and then-LSPRB Executive Director Irwin Felps about the Edmonson Amendment and Felps/Besson’s direct attempts to curtail public comment on the matter. Let’s take a look:
September 4, 2014 LSPRB meeting during which then-Treasurer (now U. S. Senator) John Kennedy dresses down Chairman Frank Besson and Executive Director Irwin Felps, Jr. [Besson gets confrontational with Kennedy at the 0:48 mark of the video. Kennedy professionally characterizes Besson’s proposal (providing for a maximum two-minute period for each retiree and other attendees to speak and ONLY if their names are, “drawn out of a hat”) wherein Besson directly sought to curtail public comment as a “bad proposal.”] We did then and do now 100 percent agree with Sen. Kennedy!
Immediately after that same meeting, Kennedy was not done voicing his displeasure over the whole matter. Let’s take a look:
September 4, 2014: Then-LSPRB Member (and then-State Treasurer) and now U. S. Senator John Kennedy is interviewed by reporters immediately after the LSPRB meeting regarding resolving the “Edmonson Amendment.”
Meanwhile, a month before Kennedy’s statements in the preceding video, Burns, who was working closely with Forgotston and Kennedy (as an aside: Burns uncovered through FOIA legal invoices of the LSPRB indicating strong consideration was given by the five Board Members to actually sue John Kennedy over him encouraging the LSPRB to be sued over the Edmonson Amendment), sent each of the five (5) members this August 9, 2014 letter inviting each of them to appear on camera and defend their steadfast opposition to litigating the Edmonson matter.
Burns followed up the letter with a subsequent email, and Frank Besson, in particular, was incredulous and demanded that Burns, “remove my name from any emails you send out.” That action on Besson’s part infuriated Forgotston, who then proceeded to flood Besson with emails and told him that, “if you don’t want to receive these emails, resign from the Board! You are a public official serving the public, and I have every right to express my sentiments to you!”
The whole matter got resolved when then-State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge), acting through Baton Rouge attorney Jack Whitehead, filed this lawsuit against the LSPRB seeking to have the entire bill declared unconstitutional. Judge Janice Clark, who is the 19th JDC judge who drew Claitor’s lawsuit, wasted no time issuing a ruling declaring it “unconstitutional on its face.”
We have also received reports that raise questions about possible actions Besson may have engaged in to assist former Col. Mike Edmonson (or a firm in which he has ownership) in procuring contracts in the aftermath of one or more hurricanes to have stricken South Louisiana.
Because Hodges’ name has not been “in play” for nearly as long as Besson’s, we don’t have as much material on him. Nevertheless, the material we did obtain from troopers is extremely unflattering. In fact, some of it is so bad that we aren’t comfortable publishing it without foundation which, at this time, we lack. Nevertheless, here is something we are comfortable publishing:
Hodges lives in Mandeville, but he lists his residence as being in Lafayette…….LSP policy requires living within 75 miles of a location when applying for a promotion. If the promoted individual does not do so, he or she has 90 days to move within the area or the promotion must be forfeited. Hodges has used the address of a friend in Lafayette to get around the requirement. So, he is knowingly and willingly violating policy but will be in charge of enforcing it if Landry chooses him as the next Colonel. Guess it will be the “same ole same old” at LSP!
So, it would appear that Landry is content to continue with the “same ole same ole,” at least regarding LSP’s “leadership” and the near-certain debacle that either choice he would make between Besson or Hodges would likely generate.
It looks like we’ll be in for an interesting and challenging time at LSP from everything we can assess of Landry’s decision-making process (i.e. just do whatever the hell the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association tells us to do) regarding LSP (in which case, Besson will undoubtedly be the next LSP Colonel).
Notwithstanding the WAFB article above (which says Landry will make the announcement, “before the end of the month,”) our sources indicate that he will make the announcement on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, just ahead of the extended Thanksgiving Day weekend. If that turns out to be the case, it may be an intentional act to keep the announcement as low-key as possible. If so, it’s not going to work because we’ll certainly blast his selection as far and wide as we can and then prepare for extreme scrutiny of whomever his choice turns out to be, especially if it’s either of the two aforementioned gentlemen!
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