YOUNGSVILLE, La. (KLFY) – Questions still remain regarding the power and authority of the Youngsville mayor and city council. While the council voted to investigate the police chief, a city law prevents the council from firing him.
“I’ve been asked by this council to take a voluntary leave of absence. My answer to that is I respectfully deny that request, as I am duly elected chief of the citizens of this city, not to you, the council,” Youngsville Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux told the city council.
He took a strong stand at Thursday night’s special meeting, telling the council, ‘Good luck’ removing him. Only the residents of Youngsville can do that.
“The only decision-making power you, the council, have is on the budget of this department and my salary,” the chief said.
The power of the city council comes down to the Lawrason Act, which allows for two forms of police chiefs: elected and appointed. Youngsville, which follows the Lawrason Act, has an elected chief.
Youngsville City Attorney Wade Trahan said this means the council and the mayor cannot exercise any supervisory authority over the operations of the police department.
“That’s clear in the Lawrason Act,” Trahan said.
Since the mayor or city council don’t have the power to fire the police chief or interfere with the operations of the police department, the question becomes do they have the power to even begin this investigation? The city attorney said yes.
“This is not, in any way, an action on part of this council, in my opinion, that impedes, interferes, inhibits, or directs the mayor in how to run or operate that police department,” Trahan added.
A former Youngsville city attorney, however, disagrees.
“Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that the investigators come back and say, ‘We noticed these procedures, these policies. They need to be changed in the Youngsville Police Department.’ Well the fact remains, if you go to the Lawrason Act, you, as a council, have no authority to change any of the rules, policies, and procedures in an elected chief of police department,” the former city attorney said.
“My concern is we’re expending public funds for an investigation, and the council is directing the mayor to take action that he’s not authorized to do under the Lawrason Act,” he added.
Ultimately, the city council did vote to begin the investigation at a special meeting Thursday.
Mayor Ken Ritter said a law firm outside of Acadiana will be chosen to keep the investigation fair and impartial. Meanwhile, Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux is sticking to his guns.
“I am staying in office. They do not have the authority, only a recall or when the time comes for a re-election,” the chief said.