METAIRIE, La. - A high-ranking member of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office is under scrutiny following an off-duty incident in St. Tammany Parish.
Major Gills Adams, a veteran JPSO commander, allegedly used his police powers to pull over his son’s school bus one morning in November.
The bus, bound for Our Lady of the Lake School, had apparently missed Gillis’ son that morning. And Adams had a heated confrontation with the driver in front of schoolchildren, according to a St. Tammany Sheriff’s incident report.
Parents of some children on the bus say Adams went too far and abused his badge.
"You want the children to be respectful of authority, especially of police officers,” said Jeannette Schmitt. “You want them to be able to follow the rules. And I thought it was disheartening that this occurred, and frightening."
The confrontation took place in the early morning hours of Nov. 7 in the Forest Brook subdivision in Mandeville, according to the incident report.
Gillis allegedly used his unmarked police vehicle’s lights and siren in pulling the bus over.
With the bus stopped, Adams and the bus driver had a heated exchange. Adams was upset the bus driver had passed his child that morning, the report states.
Schmitt, whose 13-year-old daughter was on the bus, said the bus driver continued on the route and that Adams pulled the bus over a second time.
“The police officer again pulls the bus driver over again, flashes the lights and begins to berate him again,” said Schmitt.
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, the report states. The JPSO internal affairs unit opened an inquiry.
Col. John Fortunato, spokesman for JPSO, said the internal probe is close to completion.
Fortunato noted that blue lights and sirens are permitted during emergency situations, but would not be allowed in a situation like this.
Adams is a 26-year JPSO veteran. He is currently the commander of the Public Assignment/Uniform Division.
We asked the St. Tammany School Board for a copy of the video from the bus’ on-board camera. We have yet to receive that footage.
Neither Adams, nor the bus driver responded to requests for comment.