- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s interim state police superintendent has been named to the job permanently.

Col. Kevin Reeves, a 27-year veteran of the Department of Public Safety Services, will remain at the helm, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a widely expected announcement Tuesday. Edwards had named Reeves as interim superintendent in March.

“He has absolutely proven to be a strong, respected, capable leader,” Edwards said. “You are not going to find anybody who doesn’t have the utmost respect for Col. Reeves. It’s obvious that he knows this agency, but I know that he knows this state as well and he loves the people of this state.”

When he took over as interim director, Reeves inherited a state police agency rocked by questions about spending and under financial review. His predecessor, Mike Edmonson, retired after coming under increasing criticism for his leadership of the agency.

Reeves said he’s “humbled” by the permanent appointment.

“To the public we serve, I look forward to earning your respect. I look forward to working with you,” he said.

State law requires the Louisiana State Police superintendent to be a trooper from within the agency’s ranks.

Before being named interim superintendent, Reeves commanded a statewide quick-reaction force and oversaw patrol operations in central and north Louisiana. He started with the state police in June 1990 as a motorcycle trooper in Baton Rouge and has worked as a squad leader for a mobile field force, an undercover agent on narcotics investigations and a troop commander.

His predecessor, Edmonson, held the job for nine years, making him Louisiana’s longest-serving state police superintendent. Under his leadership, concerns had been raised about thousands of dollars the state police spent on a trip to a law enforcement conference in California and about a nonprofit trooper organization’s donations to political candidates, despite bans on political contributions from troopers. He also had been under fire on blogs and a social media site allegedly run by anonymous troopers who accused him of misconduct and mishandling agency finances.

Outside auditors are digging into state police travel records.

Reeves acknowledged the scrutiny and said his agency is cooperating with the auditors.

“We as a department are moving forward,” he said. “We’re not discounting (the past). We’re learning from it. And we’re moving forward to make operations better.”

The superintendent said an internal investigation into the California trip has wrapped up, the agency’s travel policy is being adjusted and disciplinary actions are planned. He said further information about the findings will be released after the disciplinary process is complete.

Lawmakers were asked in the just-ended legislative session to rewrite Louisiana’s anti-nepotism laws to carve out a special exemption for Reeves‘ son to continue to work as a state trooper. That bill has been signed into law.

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

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