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St. George's newly appointed mayor and police chief are familiar faces

2 months 4 days 18 hours ago Tuesday, May 14 2024 May 14, 2024 May 14, 2024 11:21 AM May 14, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Jeff Landry on Tuesday named a longtime leader of the St. George incorporation effort to be the new city's interim mayor and selected a noted sheriff's department employee as its chief of police.

If the Louisiana Supreme Court ultimately lets the incorporation go through, Dustin Yates and Maj. Todd Morris will hold the top spots in Louisiana's fifth-largest city.

Justices last month approved St. George's creation, though East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council member Lamont Cole has asked them to reconsider their decision and block the incorporation.

Yates is the chief administrative officer of the St. George Fire Department and is in his 19th year with the agency. He has been involved with the effort to create St. George since an initial petition was started in 2013. 

Morris has 34 years of experience in law enforcement and currently serves as the chief of crimes against persons and special operations for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office. He oversees several divisions within the office. He had a high-profile role in solving the death of Sylviane Finck Lozada, a Brusly High School foreign language teacher who disappeared in 2011 after enduring years of documented domestic abuse.

After her disappearance, her husband fled with their daughter to Venezuela, which doesn't have an extradition agreement with the United States. Morris ultimately traced Lozada to Mexico and arrested him in 2018, and the daughter was placed with her mother's family in Belgium. Lozada was convicted of second-degree murder in 2023 and sentenced to life in prison. His wife's body has never been found.

In October 2019, 54 percent of voters in unincorporated areas of the southeastern portion of East Baton Rouge Parish supported creating a new city. At the time of the vote, the St. George area had a population of about 86,000. Because of population shifts and gains, it now likely has more than 100,000 residents.

Councilmember Cole sued, saying St. George's creation would harm other parts of the parish. Lower courts agreed with him, but the state Supreme Court overruled them and took on the case itself and on a 4-3 vote favored St. George's incorporation.

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