M-P Guillory moves to reopen search for new Lafayette police chief

Photo by Travis Gauthier
Mayor-President Josh Guillory

The gist: After more-than-subtle hints he wasn’t pleased with the applicant pool for Lafayette’s chief of police, Mayor-President Josh Guillory wants to cancel the civil service exam scheduled for later this month and reopen the search. 

Get caught up quickly. The mayor-president said in February that he would launch a national search to replace Toby Aguillard, whom he pushed out of the position in January. The search, however, was delayed by the Lafayette Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board due to COVID-19; Lt. Scott Morgan has been serving as interim chief. On May 21, according to public records obtained by KATC, Civil Service Board Chairman Paul Mouton informed CAO Cydra Wingerter that applications would be accepted from June 1 to July 1.

The first ads weren’t posted until June 19, less than two weeks before the deadline, according to Guillory’s spokesman, Jamie Angelle. The search yielded only four applicants, all from the Lafayette area; no one currently within the Lafayette Police Department with a ranking above sergeant applied. 

Angelle told The Current in early July the position was advertised in Police Career Finder, Police Magazine, Law Enforcement News-PoliceOne, DiscoverPolicing.org, The Acadiana Advocate, The Baton Rouge Advocate and The New Orleans Advocate.

Shortly after the deadline, in comments to The Daily Advertiser, Guillory said he was unsure about the success of the national search. “If they’re all internal then I don’t know how successful we were on the national search,” he said. “But I can tell you Jamie put the ads out there nationally. But they’re busy too, and that’s something we’ve got to consider. You’ve got all these other municipalities going through the same thing we’re going through, some worse than us.”

However, public records later obtained by KATC showed that Guillory wanted the position posted in very specific places, including media outlets in Atlanta, Dallas and Houston, according to emails within the department. The only evidence the public records produced related to those wishes was correspondence to the company that owns the Dallas Morning News about one week before the deadline. The email indicated that the cost of the ads, $2,400, was likely not within LCG’s budget. “We did search nationally, but we could do a better job,” Guillory acknowledged later at a press conference. 

Guillory wants the civil service exam canceled. Guillory sent a letter to the civil service board to cancel the Aug. 27 exam, asking that it be moved “to a later date to enable time for additional advertising” so that more candidates can apply. “This will give us the most competitive pool of candidates possible from which to choose,” he added. Guillory notified the board by email on July 29 and followed up with a letter the next day.

The request was added to the board’s Aug. 12 agenda. The board, which has already reviewed the applications and deemed the four men qualified to sit for the exam, has the discretion to deny the mayor’s request. The candidates are Lafayette Police Sgt. Wayne Griffin, the department’s current PIO; retired Lafayette Police Lt. Guy LeBreton; retired Louisiana State Police Lt. Eric Burson; and Lafayette Police Sgt. Paul Trouard.

Board Chairman Paul Mouton could not be reached for comment. 

Attorney Pat Magee and 15th Judicial District Court Judge Jules Edwards, two members serving on Guillory’s six-person selection committee, tell The Current they were unaware Guillory had taken specific steps to cancel the test. Neither, however, seemed surprised given the mayor-president’s earlier comments to The Advertiser and other media outlets that there may need to be a round two. Guillory, however, had indicated that he would lean on the selection committee for guidance. “I’m hopeful, for our people, for our administration, for our police department, that the magic person is right there in round one, and they may be,” he told The Advertiser. “The committee may not recommend any of them, and I’ve got to respect that.”

Edwards says he hasn’t heard anything from Guillory since he was first approached by him to serve on the committee. “I understand the mayor is busy with this pandemic, and I understand why he hasn’t gotten with me,” the judge says, noting that he’d like a better understanding of the timeline for having a new chief in place. “I look forward to him getting in touch with me soon.”

“In my last conversation with Josh, approximately a month ago, he did advise that he was not in a rush and wanted to ensure we had the best candidates to vet,” Magee tells The Current. “However, we did not speak about the testing protocol.”