By Kiran Chawla | Unfiltered with Kiran | April 19, 2023
BATON ROUGE — The Baton Rouge Police Department has rehired an officer who was fired over 20 years ago bringing the question of potential disparate discipline to the forefront.
The now 56-year-old was fired in 2000 from BRPD for conduct unbecoming of an officer, sexual harassment, and lack of truthfulness following two separate assault allegations.
Unfiltered with Kiran has obtained internal documentation detailing illicit assaults made by Officer Tramelle Neldare to a man and a woman less than a month apart. Both victims complaints were reviewed by the Baton Rouge Police Department’s internal affairs division and ultimately led to his termination.
But despite a warranted termination, Neldare has since been rehired by the department in what some leaders are calling a potential “liability” for the department.
July 29, 2000: Traffic stop assault
The first incident involved a 19-year-old victim on July 29, 2000. Unfiltered with Kiran is protecting the victim’s name in this case. The young man was stopped for an alleged traffic violation around midnight on Florida Blvd. His 16-year-old friend was the passenger in the car. The teens were in the area waiting to see if a relative needed a ride home when an officer stopped their vehicle. Officer Neldare then ran over to the stopped car, according to records.
Unfiltered with Kiran obtained the victim’s statement, which he typed up in his own words, describing what happened that night.
He said Officer Neldare “started choking me and calling me a little b**ch while he was hitting my face on the hood of the car, and telling me that I am just a little punk b**ch, stupid mother f***er, etc… So he lets me up and asks me what I wanted to do now, ‘Did I want to fight?’ I told him that I had better sense than to be fighting a police officer. He threw me back on the hood of the car and was pressing my face down on the hot hood and was holding it there. At the same time, (he was) still cussing me, still calling me ‘b**ch this’ and ‘b**ch that.’ Then he told me to get on my knees, and when I did, he stood in front of me and asked me how did I like having his black d**k in my face because I was his b**ch. He proceeded with if he put his d**k in my mouth, would I bite on it? He told me I probably would because I was his b**ch.”
The teen victim said that he was then issued a ticket for not wearing his seatbelt, even though he claims that he was properly buckled at the time of the traffic stop. The teen went on to say that Officer Neldare asked him if he was a black female, and Officer Neldare added that the teen “was a pretty black b**ch”.
The victim said he tried to glance at the officer’s name and number on his uniform while he was getting up from off the ground.
“He told me to keep on looking because I wasn’t going to be able to do anything about it. After that, he gave me my ticket and on my way back to my car, he came up behind me and slap me on my butt. He told me that I didn’t like that and that I was his little b**ch.”
The victim reported the incident to the Baton Rouge Police Department internal affairs in 2000.
August 25, 2000: Same officer, new allegation
Then, less than four weeks later, there was another incident involving Officer Neldare. This time, the victim was a woman who claims that she was inappropriately touched by Officer Neldare.
On August 25, 2000, two BRPD officers were responding to a call on Evangeline St. when they heard a disturbance nearby between a boyfriend and girlfriend. Officer Neldare responded to the disturbance. He separated the couple and took the man outside. While checking his ID, Officer Neldare started talking to him.
In his own words from his report, Officer Neldare told the man, “There was enough p***y to go around 10 times or more and not to get caught up on just one.” He further advised him, “It did not matter what a female had, if you can’t get along, maybe you don’t need to be together. It did not matter if she could stand on her head and make her p***y whistle dixie, sometimes you just have to move on.”
Officer Tramelle Neldare
After separating the couple, Officer Neldare went back into the home and asked to speak to the woman privately, away from her children. According to his own report, he then proceeded to tell the victim:
“If she is calling (boyfriend) for any reason, she needed to stop. Don’t call him for money or to give him some. If you want to give up some, call someone else….Whatever she had and however she threw it on him, she got him hooked, but she needed to leave him alone.”
Officer Tramelle Neldare
In his internal affairs documents, then Baton Rouge Police Chief Greg Phares documented to Officer Neldare that he made a remark to the woman to the effect that Neldare wanted to see what the woman had that was making her boyfriend ‘crazy.’
Chief Phares documented that Officer Neldare then placed his hand inside the front of the woman’s pants. The victim pulled away. She would later report him to internal affairs and said that Officer Neldare then lifted her sweater to look at her rear. When she expressed fear of her boyfriend returning to hurt her, documents show Officer Neldare offered to provide 24-hour protection for her if she could cook or give him a back massage. She replied that she would do neither. When her teenage son arrived, Officer Neldare left the home.
The victim’s family convinced her to go to BRPD to file a report on the officer. After she met with Officer Neldare’s supervisor, he requested Neldare’s report of the Aug. 25th incident. That’s when Officer Neldare detailed his conversations with both the boyfriend and girlfriend.
During his meeting with BRPD internal affairs, documents show that Officer Neldare admitted to using profanities with the boyfriend during the August incident and admitted to offering to stay if the girlfriend would ‘cook and provide a back rub.’ He clarified to the internal affairs investigators that he was joking and denied touching the woman inappropriately.
Officer Neldare also denied making any derogatory comments to the 19-year-old from the July incident.
After the internal affairs investigation, Chief Phares terminated Officer Neldare on December 11, 2000, for conduct unbecoming of an officer, sexual harassment, and lack of truthfulness.
In April 2001, Neldare appealed his firing to the Civil Service Board, which upheld the termination in a 3-2 vote. Neldare then appealed to the 19th Judicial District Court, and in January 2003, the judge also upheld the termination.
Records show that Neldare worked for the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office from March 2002 to January 2005, and again from June 2006 to October 2006. Both times, he voluntarily resigned from his position with the sheriff’s office.
After leaving the PCSO, Neldare began working for the Port Allen Police Department in October 2006. Records show that he voluntarily resigned from the PAPD in August 2010.
After an 11-year gap in law enforcement, Neldare was re-hired by the Baton Rouge Police Department in April 2021 as a reserve officer. This allowed him to work extra-duty details to supplement his income.
In November 2022, Neldare passed the required POST test with the BRPD Academy. That same day, he qualified with his firearm. However, sources with inside knowledge say Neldare was given special accommodations to ensure he was there for the vital parts of the academy, but skipped on the rest.
“A reflection of exceedingly poor judgment”
As of March 27, 2023, Neldare is back to working as a full-time officer with the Baton Rouge Police Department, according to City-Parish records obtained by UWK. In his new role, he currently responds to calls with another officer. In other words, he is in a field training officer program, or FTO, program where he is being trained. After his training is over in a few more months, he will be a uniformed police officer responding to calls alone.
“I think this is a black eye for the Baton Rouge Police Department in general, and for the police chief in particular,” said Rafael Goyeneche, a former prosecutor turned watchdog with the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
UWK reached out to Goyeneche for comment on this case, and he independently reviewed the files. When asked for his response to the re-hiring of a fired officer, he said, “This is stunning misconduct that more than justified his firing. He’s lucky not to have been charged with felony criminal offenses for his conduct.”
UWK also spoke with former Baton Rouge Police Chief Phares about Neldare’s firing. We asked Phares why the department did not turn Neldare’s case over for criminal prosecution.
“After 23 years, I do not recall why. I don’t know,” said Phares. When asked if Neldare’s conduct could have been considered criminal at the time, Phares responded, “Arguably so, yes.”
“So the fact that he has been rehired by the Baton Rouge Police Department is, in my opinion, a reflection of exceedingly poor judgment,” Goyeneche added. “Hiring an officer who was fired for cause, based on what was documented in his termination, is inexcusable. Justifying bringing this unprofessional and potentially dangerous officer back onto the police force is unacceptable.”
Goyeneche tells UWK that he’s confused as to why the current BRPD administration would rehire Neldare. A search of BRPD’s own website lists qualifications that would disqualify anyone from employment with the department.
One of BRPD’s own disqualifiers is if the candidate “has resigned or been terminated from a law enforcement agency for criminal conduct.” Neldare voluntarily resigned three times and was also terminated.
Records show Neldare graduated from the Baton Rouge Police Academy in 1998 as part of the 61st academy. One of BRPD’s current deputy chiefs, Myron Daniels, also graduated in the same class in 1998 with Neldare.
Further digging found Neldare, Deputy Chief Myron Daniels and BRPD Chief Murphy Paul are all members of the same fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. Numerous pictures show Neldare & Daniels at fraternity events together.
Being fraternity brothers and having graduated the academy together beg the question if Neldare’s rehiring was a favor to a fellow fraternity member, the same fraternity that the police chief is also a member of. It’s why UWK asked Goyeneche if these connections are grounds for rehiring Officer Neldare.
“Belonging to a fraternal organization is not a valid reason to circumvent departmental policies and procedures for hiring and compensation,” said Goyeneche. “That is why I believe that the police chief owes an explanation to the public regarding his reasoning and justification for rehiring an officer who was fired for cause due to his misconduct.
What Neldare did would be grounds for termination in any law enforcement agency. The fact that the same agency that dismissed him two decades ago has now rehired him and elevated his pay to the extent that you described is something that, in my opinion, the police chief must account for to the public.”
Chief Paul asserts that UWK is not a media outlet and that he only grants interviews to representatives of the media. BRPD does not cooperate with UWK investigations and does not respond to emails or inquiries regarding cases, which is why BRPD has not provided a response for this report.”
As per BRPD General Order 139, Public Information Officers may communicate with authorized news media representatives which is defined as “those individuals who are directly employed by agencies of the electronic or print media such as radio, television and newspapers.” The policy specifically states that “free-lance workers in this field are to be regarded as other members of the general public unless otherwise designated by the Chief of Police.”
Deelee Morris — BRPD’s legal representative
UWK has also pulled records showing Neldare’s pay. Despite being fired, voluntarily resigning three times and a large gap in working in law enforcement, Neldare started at a pay step 16. The highest pay step for Baton Rouge Police Department officers is step 19. (chart with pay steps: 2023-BRPD-Pay-Steps)
New officers who have not served in other law enforcement agencies start at a pay step five, which is around $40,906 annually. However, experienced officers joining from other agencies can start at a pay step equivalent to their previous employer’s salary.
In Neldare’s case, who has zero years of experience according to City-Parish records, he started at step 16 with a salary of $56,624. That’s nearly $15,000 more than what new officers start at. He could be eligible for a raise to pay step 17 ($58,322) within six months of employment, and to pay step 18 ($60,071) within a year of employment. The highest pay step is 19, which provides a salary of $61,874.
To put this in perspective, in two specific examples UWK looked up, an officer with almost 14 years of experience at BRPD is on pay step 15 and earns $54,974, while an officer with nearly 21 years of experience is on pay step 19 and earns $61,874. In comparison, Neldare has zero experience but has already started out making more than a veteran police officer.
“You can’t put a dollar value on the adverse impact this is going to have on officer morale within the Baton Rouge Police Department,” Goyeneche said. “Under normal circumstances, officers with this in their background would never even get through the background checks might much less hired. And this person was not only reinstated, he was reinstated at a level of pay that it was not commensurate with his experience.”
The Victims: 23 years later
Unfiltered with Kiran managed to locate the female victim from 2000, but she declined to participate in an interview, stating that she did not wish to revisit the traumatic events of 23 years ago.
The 19-year-old victim from the July 2000 incident has since become an officer with the Baton Rouge Police Department and is highly regarded by those who have worked with him. It was reportedly distressing for him to learn that Neldare had been rehired as an officer by the department.
UWK has uncovered that Neldare was assigned to the same district and shift as the victim, which could have potentially exposed him to his former abuser.
Current BRPD policy prohibits officers from speaking to the media.
“This officer is going to be a liability to the department”
Any officer who has had a policy violation of “truthfulness” sustained on their record is required to be added to the district attorney’s Brady List.
The Brady List is a public record database about police misconduct, public complaints and use-of-force reports that assistant district attorneys and criminal defense lawyers use to track police officers who have been involved in or accused of misconduct.
According to the EBR district attorney, normally, the law enforcement agency responsible for the officer will inform the district attorney’s office of any such misconduct by one of their officers, which will result in the officer being added to the list.
“I’ve never heard of this until you told me that,” said 19th JDC District Attorney Hillar Moore. “I have no knowledge that (Neldare has been) rehired other than what you’re telling me. I should be made aware. He should be considered to be added to the Brady List if he’s ever had an issue with truthfulness.”
In fact, Moore said “District attorneys rely on police departments to notify them of any officers whose truthfulness complaint has been sustained because the DA has a constitutional obligation to report that. Otherwise, how else am I to know about it?”
Baton Rouge’s Brady List started after Hillar Moore took office. There was no Brady List in 2000.
“He would not be on our current Brady List because we wouldn’t have known about, but if I know that now, I’m going to have to look at it and get all of those findings,” Moore added. “If it is sustained and the appeals are through, I don’t know how he would not be on the Brady List.
If an officer is impaired or comprised by Brady, we have to keep him on the list to let our ADA’s know or let any criminal defense attorney know that there is a truthfulness issue. We are required by law, by constitutional law, to provide that information so that’s why we began keeping a list because our personnel comes and goes and officers come and go so there’s always a list there we can check or our ADA’s check to abide by their ethical rules.”
“This officer is going to be a liability to the department because if he reverts to anything that results from complaints, it’s going to open the agency up to civil litigation,” said Goyeneche.
Goyeneche says that if Chief Paul cannot explain why he allowed Neldare to be rehired, then East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome needs to get involved.
“By ignoring the policies and procedures of the department, I think the chief has discredited himself and the agency that he works for, and it’s something that, if the chief won’t explain, I would hope the mayor would conduct an independent review of the circumstances that led to the rehiring of this disgraced officer,” said Goyeneche.
Mayor Broome’s public information officer, Mark Armstrong, has denied any interview requests to the mayor, saying “We typically only do interviews and media releases with credentialed media.”
Her office also claims that UWK is not media but a blog instead.
UWK did reach out to Officer Neldare asking for a resporise to this report. He told us he had no comment.