What should policing look like in Lafayette?

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Readers asked about masks, reinfection, Florida and quarantining; Here’s what how the experts responded

There isn’t evidence that masks are unsafe. Lafayette is about as unsafe as Florida. Did they mention you should wear a mask?

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Column: Lafayette’s economy needs a mask mandate now

Lafayette’s economy can’t get healthy if its people aren’t healthy. The only way to slow the spread of this coronavirus is to get 80-90% of people to wear masks or to shut the everything back down again. Faced with those options, Lafayette needs to do everything in its power to get people to wear masks, not just to save lives but to save our economy.

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Nationwide chief search attracts four local applicants

The gist: Four local men are vying to replace Toby Aguillard as chief of police in Lafayette, after a nationwide search yielded no outside interest

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No one in the department with a ranking above sergeant applied. Meeting the July 1 deadline for applications were Lafayette Police Sgt. Wayne Griffin, the department’s current PIO; retired Lafayette Police Sgt. Guy LeBreton; retired Louisiana State Police Lt. Eric Burson; and Lafayette Police Sgt. Paul Trouard. The candidates will now have to sit for the civil service exam.

Only one Black candidate, Griffin, applied for the job, at a time of heightened national tension over systemic racism and its role in policing. Mayor-President Josh Guillory has moved to eliminate the position of retired officer Reggie Thomas, who as deputy chief was the highest ranking Black police officer ever to serve in the department.

Thomas was passed over as interim chief after Aguillard’s departure. Guillory instead chose Lt. Scott Morgan, who has 24 years with the city. Thomas initially told The Current he would seek the chief’s position, but later retired and decided to run for city marshal.

The applications were approved by the Lafayette Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service board today; the board has called on the state to set a testing date, likely next month, according to attorney Candice Hattan, who represents the board.

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Committee will evaluate candidates, make recommendations. LCG Chief Communications Officer Jamie Angelle confirms that a diverse, six-person selection committee with a wide range of professional experience will evaluate the applicants and make a recommendation to Mayor-President Josh Guillory. Serving on the committee are retiring 15th Judicial District Judge Jules Edwards, who is seeking a seat as city court judge; Sheriff Mark Garber, who was on the selection committee for the Robideaux administration; City Councilwoman Liz Hebert; attorney Pat Magee, director of the state attorney general’s criminal division; insurance executive Mark Romero, a member of the UL System’s board of supervisors who chaired Guillory’s police transition committee; and Parish Councilman AB Rubin. Angelle says Romero will chair the committee. Garber, Hebert and Romero are White, and Edwards, Magee and Rubin are Black.

When Aguillard sought the job in 2016, there were 14 applicants. Aguillard was pushed out soon after Guillory took office, but briefly resisted his ouster. In an interview with The Daily Advertiser (read more about the current applicants’ backgrounds and qualifications here), Guillory appeared to hint that the current field may not yield a recommendation. “[I] told one of the committee members today that this isn’t a check-off-the-box thing. … so if they go through this committee and there are no recommendations, we’ll open it back up,” Guillory told the paper. “I’m not going to rush through on the first batch. 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,” Guillory added. “The committee may not recommend any of them, and I’ve got to respect that.”

While he pledged to hold a nationwide search after pushing Aguillard out, Guillory did say he hoped to promote from within

Given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic — not to mention mounting pressure on departments nationwide — Guillory told The Daily Advertiser 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.”

Angelle confirms 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.

“I am unaware of any others at this time,” Angelle says. “There may be other police-related boards or blogs that people could have shared it on, but I haven’t heard of anything being posted elsewhere.”

COLUMN: Don’t let political theater distract you from LUS’s bigger problems

In the next couple of years, LUS has to make a series of huge decisions. But the issues that matter are getting drowned out by the political theater that’s been drummed up around potentially illegal payments from LUS to LUS Fiber. Lafayette can’t afford to get distracted.

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A seat at the (Lafayette comedy) table

Local comedians and performers want to build a more inclusive scene in world dominated by “white dudes with beards.”

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BVD Commissioners resign in dramatic flare-up over proposed George Floyd statement

A message of unity ran into procedural roadblocks put up by the now-departed commissioners, culminating with a contentious June meeting marked with irate outbursts.

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Council Preview: Buildings, sewers, help for the needy, budget cuts and more appointments than you can count

The gist: Tuesday’s agendas are jam-packed, with 130 items across five meetings: the normal city, parish and joint council meetings plus two emergency meetings, one for the parish and one for the joint councils. There’s everything from updates and reports on a range of topics to big next steps on major road and sewer projects, to dozens of appointments to boards and commissions, to making new rules for AirBnBs, to significant budget cuts, and beyond. 

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Lowell Duhon

Maligned LUS consultant accuses Guillory of playing politics

The gist: NewGen Strategies & Solutions, LUS’s consulting engineer, fired back at Mayor-President Josh Guillory, saying in a July 2 letter obtained by The Current that his decision to publicly lay out a case for firing the longtime consultant was malicious and politically motivated. 

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Coronavirus Update: In June, Lafayette unflattened the curve

The gist: Deaths, hospitalizations and cases are rising in Lafayette at a troubling pace. Both the parish and the greater Acadiana region are in the throes of striking rebounds that have positioned the area among the state’s hotspots.

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Special session roundup: Business interests notch big wins as legislators assert independence

The Legislature staked out an independent course this session, calling itself into special session that produced policy wins for business interests

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Video: Lourdes, LGH officials share concerns amid record hospitalizations

Amid concerns that hospitals in the Acadiana area are now treating record numbers of coronavirus patients — Region 4 had 126 patients Wednesday, one higher than the record set April 10 — the chief medical officers at Lafayette General Health and Our Lourdes of Lourdes’ local system issued a joint video statement Wednesday.

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Mask up to pass a good time at the Hideaway Kitchen

The scene may have changed at the Hideaway, but the food and the vibe haven’t.

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