In the Baton Rouge Police Department’s sprawling 3rd District, the days and nights grew long in recent weeks. But Sunday took a completely different kind of toll.
Based inside an old hospital complex on Airline Highway now serving as police headquarters, the district’s 80 officers were on the front lines of the Alton Sterling protests that had moved to just across the street. Then, just days ago, the district lost two men, Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald, to a lone gunman from Missouri who was targeting police.
The Sterling protests put the entire department on extended hours. The 3rd district’s six shifts were compressed into four. Two shifts manned the protests. The other two stayed on patrol, facing 12-hour days that ended up being 18- to 19-hour ones.
“We have been around the clock,” Lt. Jay Lapeyrouse told the Advocate, one of six shift supervisors in the police district.
Mike Mattingly, chaplain coordinator of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team in Baton Rouge ministering to officers, said “Officers feel betrayed. They feel let down. They’re frustrated, heartbroke and also angry,” Mattingly said. “Their job is to maintain law and order in our community, and they’re being challenged at every turn by the media, or by a social, political mindset that doesn’t have their interest at heart.”