Butch Browning reinstated as State Fire Marshal

Staff reports

Butch Browning was reinstated as the Louisiana State Fire Marshal effective May 7, following a State Police investigation which found that there is no factual evidence to support an attempt to defraud the department or public trust. Col. Mike Edmonson, Deputy Secretary for the Department of Public Safety, asked Browning to reconsider his decision to retire and rejoin the Department.

State Police investigated the same complaints and allegations that were forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General. The complaints were assigned to supervisors in the Internal Affairs Section, which is responsible for administrative investigations within the Department of Public Safety. The investigations included reviewing the complaints, inspecting documents, examining departmental reports and conducting interviews.

Browning submitted his intent to retire to Col. Edmonson, April 17, and informed the colonel that he had been offered a job in the private sector. Col. Edmonson announced Browning’s intentions to the public the same day while also taking Browning’s decision to retire under consideration.

“Butch and I have had several conversations since he announced his intent to retire.  We discussed the opportunities afforded to him in the private sector. We have also spoken about the distractions caused by the allegations made against him and the subsequent investigations,” Edmonson said. “I reminded Butch about the successes of the Fire Marshal’s Office under his leadership over the past four years and the goals we have yet to accomplish.”

Edmonson added, "I respect the role of the Inspector General and appreciate his efforts and partnership.  As such, I assigned a trooper to assist his office with their investigation. I take any allegation against Departmental personnel or operations very serious. That is why I directed Internal Affairs' supervisors to conduct an internal investigation and review every piece of information to determine if departmental policy was violated or if criminal activity occurred. That investigation has shown me that Butch did not abuse his power or violate the public trust.”