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City at odds with chief over speeding officer

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SORRENTO - Family members tell News 2 the victim of a car crash involving a speeding police car plans to file suit against the Sorrento Police Department.

Last month, Sorrento officer James Bell was chasing a speeding car when he struck a car not involved in the chase.

Records found Bell was doing 100 mph before the crash, according the accident report.

"That's why we reprimanded him and that's what we want to stop," chief Earl Theriot said. "If he does it again he will be terminated."

Documents obtained by The Creole website in Ascension Parish show Bell was flagged a total of 737 times for driving over 75 mph.

Computer software tracks the speeds and whereabouts of Sorrento police cruisers.

The software showed Bell speeding more than 30 mph over the legal speed limit on Burbank Drive in East Baton Rouge where he lives.

"I don't want an officer coming to or from work speeding," Theriot said.

But when it comes where cruisers can go, Mayor Mike Lambert and Councilman Donald Schexnaydre do not want them leaving Ascension Parish.

"It says the cars should not leave," Schexnaydre said pointing to a Sorrento ordinance at a meeting Tuesday night.

The Louisiana Attorney General decided three years ago police cars can go anywhere, said Theriot.

Theriot is also against the software that track his officers.  The cost of the program is $3,000 a year.  He calls the system, which sends alerts to his cell phone, a nuisance.

Theriot claims the other times Bell was speeding was for responding to calls and chasing criminals but he did not provide any hard evidence.



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