Baldwin police chief responds to recall & Quawan Charles case

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BALDWIN, La. (KLFY) — The Chief of the Baldwin Police Department has been called absent and negligent in the aftermath of 15-year-old Quawan “Bobby” Charles being reported missing and found dead a full weekend later.

There have been so many questions since the public learned of Quawan Charles’ suspicious death and that he was reported missing to the Baldwin Police Department Friday night. One has been, “Where was the chief?” We got that answer and more when we called his phone.

“Would you say that you are hard to find?” News 10 reporter Neale Zeringue asked.

“I’m not hard to find. I’m a phone call away,” Baldwin Police Chief Harry Smith Jr.

Smith is a Baldwin native and lifelong resident. He started working with the police department at age 18 and eventually became the reelected chief, but recent criticism over the case of missing teen found dead Quawan Charles and accusations of him disappearing from his duties months at a time has promted a recall.

“I feel that it shouldn’t be the case,” stated Chief Smith. “I’ve been here for right at 30 years with reserve, part time, and full time. I have always been around this department. I have to be the one to come out and patrol when there’s nobody to.”

Smith says a fire in 2018 that gutted the police station and a limited budget have contributed to him working many of the night patrols for his deparment.

In the Quawan Charles case, he said his officers immediatly went into action. “My officer when he initially took the report down, he took the mission first to report and put it in the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) and into the computer, and myself and the assistant chief let our officers know to be on the lookout for the kid.”

Chief Smith said his officer notified St. Mary Parish Sherifff Office and tried to call missing teen’s phone all weekend. When asked if he tried to ping the GPS location of the phone, Smith replied, “You’d probably have to get permission from the family, from the parents.”

Charles’ family contacted the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office (IPSO) the following Tuesday, and the Iberia Parish Sheriff said his deputies found Quawan within hours by pinging his cell phone.

We asked Chief Smith if he knew why IPSO was able to get that location of the phone quickly, his men working on it through the weekend.

“I’m not too sure on that part,” Smith answered.

The Mayor of Baldwin did publicly ask Chief Harris to step down. Smith said he has a deep love the community. He’s “bent over backwards for it,” and he plans to keep his position protecting his neighbors.

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