JPSO commander suspended for confrontation with school bus driver

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 17, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 17 at 7:21 PM

Brendan McCarthy / Eyewitness News
Email: bmccarthy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @bmccarthyWWL

JEFFERSON, La. -- A veteran commander in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office was suspended this week for 20 workdays following an altercation with his son's school bus driver.

A JPSO internal investigation found that Major Gillis Adams was wrong in using his blue emergency lights and siren to pull over the bus in St. Tammany Parish.

"We don't have the authority to do that,” Sheriff Newell Normand said. You can't utilize the authority that the tax-paying public gives to one in order to solve these personal issues."

Adams was irate that the bus driver, bound for Our Lady of the Lake School, passed by his son. And he exploded in front of students.

You can see the exchange for yourself above in this exclusive video obtained by Eyewitness News.

The confrontation took place in the early morning hours of Nov. 7 in the Forest Brook subdivision in Mandeville.

The St. Tammany Parish School Board’s transportation department filed a complaint with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office.

The agency couldn’t find any evidence of a crime, and referred the matter over to the Jefferson Parish sheriff. Thursday, Sheriff Newell Normand offered an apology to the school system and the parents of the students on the bus.

“I sensed from him, remorse in what he did. I understand the challenges of a parent but it doesn’t excuse his behavior,” Normand said.

“I must apologize to the parents of the kids on the bus and to the St. Tammany Parish school system for his conduct. It was not becoming of an officer.”

Several parents were upset that the deputy abused his power in front of their children.

"You want the children to be respectful of authority, especially of police officers,” Jeannette Schmitt said last month. “You want them to be able to follow the rules. And I thought it was disheartening that this occurred, and frightening."

Schmitt, whose 13-year-old daughter was on the bus, said Thursday she thought the punishment was fair, though she believed his take-home car privileges should be suspended.

"I feel like he bullied our bus driver and our children," she added.

Adams, a 26-year JPSO veteran, is currently the commander of the Public Assignment/Uniform Division. His 20-day suspension is without pay.

 

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