Louisiana police department apologizes for 'inappropriate and offensive' 1993 blackface photo

A Louisiana police department apologized Monday for an "inappropriate and offensive" 1993 blackface yearbook photo that recently resurfaced.

The photo from a Baton Rouge Police Department yearbook shows two men identified as Lt. Don Stone and former Capt. Frankie Caruso wearing blackface as they pose for a picture. The caption reads, "Soul Brothers."


"Blackface photographs are inappropriate and offensive," Police Chief Murphy Paul said in a statement on Monday. "They were inappropriate then and are inappropriate today."

"The Baton Rouge Police Department would like to apologize to our citizens and to anyone who may have been offended by the photographs."

Paul, who is black, explained that because of how old the picture is, they cannot investigate the incident.

"Administratively, the department cannot apply existing policies to conduct that happened before the policies were in place."

"Today, we would not allow our officers to wear blackface in an official capacity under any circumstances," he added. "We have policies in place to prevent our officers from engaging in this type of behavior both on and off-duty."

Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome (D) also issued a statement condemning the photo.

"Blackface is more than just a costume," she said. "It invokes a painful history in this country and it is not appropriate in any situation."

In an interview with The Advocate newspaper in 1993, Caruso, who is now retired, said he and Stone used blackface as a disguise to infiltrate predominantly black neighborhoods for drug stings.

“Not only do they not know we’re cops — they don’t even know we’re white!” Caruso said at the time.

Caruso defended the disguise to The Advocate on Monday.

"You got to dress the part," Caruso said. "It wasn't done offensively."

The Hill was not able to contact Stone, who still works for the department.

Blackface photos have recently forced out public officials including Florida’s secretary of state, while Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and state Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) are both facing calls to step down over their own blackface-related incidents.