- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Louisiana State Police veteran with more than 26 years in the ranks will lead the agency as interim superintendent, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday.

Maj. Kevin Reeves, who commands a statewide quick reaction force and oversees patrol operations in central and north Louisiana, will start the interim job Saturday. He’s taking over from Col. Mike Edmonson, who retired after coming under increasing criticism for his leadership of the agency.

“Maj. Reeves assumes this responsibility with a wealth of knowledge and the respect from his colleagues across the state,” Edwards said in a statement. “The state police are called on to assist law enforcement in every corner of Louisiana and play a critical role in times of disaster. I have tremendous confidence in Kevin’s ability to lead this agency.”

Reeves, who lives in the north Louisiana town of Jonesboro, said Edwards reached out to him about the interim job, and the major described himself as “honored and humbled” to take the helm. In an interview, he said his primary goal will be to instill confidence in state police employees, troopers and the public that the “organization is strong.”

The incoming leader will meet with Edmonson on Thursday to discuss the transition.

Louisiana’s longest-serving state police superintendent, Edmonson announced he was retiring after nine years in the position as pressure mounted about his management.

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.

Outside auditors are digging into state police travel records.

“We welcome the inquiries that are going on. We need to be transparent,” Reeves said.

Edmonson had been under fire from blogs and a social media site allegedly run by anonymous troopers accusing him of misconduct and mishandling agency finances. Reeves said he hopes employees will feel comfortable talking with him about problems they identify.

“I would like to establish an atmosphere where we’re inclusive of our personnel and we encourage them to come forth with their concerns,” he said. “I am going to try to reach out to all of our employees and take that message to them.”

Edwards intends to have a permanent superintendent chosen by June, to present for Senate confirmation before the upcoming legislative session ends, according to governor’s spokesman Richard Carbo. Reeves said he’d be interested in seeking the position permanently.

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

Reeves started with the state police in June 1990 as a motorcycle trooper in Baton Rouge. Since then, he’s served as a squad leader for a mobile field force, an undercover agent on narcotics investigations and a troop commander before his current jobs.


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

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