Interim chief fired, town shutters police force
SORRENTO - After supporting a measure to fire the interim police chief, the mayor of this small town is asking residents to disband the department.
"I think we are better served by the Ascension Parish Sheriff's office. We cannot provide the services that they can provide," mayor Mike Lambert said Tuesday.
During the council meeting where this was discussed, council members voted 4-1 to fire Ricky Smith, the interim police chief.
Smith took over after former chief Earl Theriot resigned amid personal and department scandals. Theriot admitted to lying to federal agents after he was accused of taking a drunk woman into his custody and forcing her to perform oral sex on him. Last year, the town lost insurance coverage for the department because the risk was too great.
Smith had been working without pay since the beginning of August when the council eliminated the department's funding. Smith was not at Tuesday's meeting where the council fired him but approved a measure to pay him $2,400 for time worked when he was not paid.
Councilwoman Patti Poche voted against paying Smith because she believes he did no work while at his office.
Poche also asked evidence in the closed department be turned over to the sheriff's office.
"He's had all this time to do all of this and he has not made an effort to do any of this," Poche said. "What has he been doing all this time that he's been sitting there?"
The evidence remains in the department's locker and the mayor has the key. Smith told WBRZ News 2, Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley sent a letter to the mayor's office stating he would not take any evidence from Sorrento.
The department still has cases pending. Those cases will be handled by Ascension Parish District Attorney Ricky Babin's office.
In November, Sorrento residents will vote on whether to keep or disband the department entirely.