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Amid controversy, La. State Police tweaks traffic program

Amid controversy, La. State Police tweaks traffic program

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana State Police is restarting a highway traffic enforcement program coordinated with local parishes that had been suspended for months amid concerns troopers were billing for hours they didn't work.

When the program restarts Monday, it will have new restrictions that state police leader Col. Kevin Reeves says are aimed at toughening oversight.

The ticket-writing program was suspended in November after undercover surveillance footage from WVUE-TV in New Orleans appeared to show several troopers claiming hours they weren't on the job.

At the time, Reeves ordered a review of the program and started a criminal investigation. The state police says four troopers remain under investigation.

The traffic program is called Local Agency Compensated Enforcement, known as LACE. Local district attorneys contract with the state police and reimburse the agency for hours and mileage claimed by troopers working extra-duty shifts and writing speeding tickets in jurisdictions around the state. The local jurisdictions keep the ticket money.

Under the new program guidelines, Reeves said overtime will be capped, reporting requirements for the traffic program have been rewritten and the extra shifts will have to be scheduled a week in advance.

The controversy over the ticket-writing program comes amid other misconduct scandals.

Two troopers were demoted after they were determined to have improperly billed thousands of dollars for overtime and expenses for a road trip they took to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon while driving to a conference in San Diego. The trip prompted the early retirement of Reeves' predecessor, Mike Edmonson. A scathing legislative audit released after Edmonson's retirement accused him of living a lavish lifestyle financed by state police money.

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Information from: WVUE-TV, http://fox8live.com