ST. LANDRY PARISH — The Sheriff of St. Landry Parish has a suggestion for small towns: replace their police departments.
Sheriff Bobby Guidroz mentioned Melville, Washington, and Arnaudville, whose town council recently requested a proposal from the sheriff’s office while asking their police chief to step down.
The Arnaudville Police Department is budgeted for $485K this year, but Sheriff Guidroz’s proposal is a little over $320K. That’s an over 30% savings, but it isn’t the only advantage the department is offering.
“We’re in a different world today,” Guidroz insisted. “Our law enforcement requires training, experience, and expertise, and that’s what it takes. These little towns can’t afford that.”
Although Sheriff Guidroz said a total parish takeover and abolishing of a police department has never happened in St. Landry parish, he believes the time will come.
“I bet you in ten years from know, towns are going to come up with this same idea and say, ‘Let’s contract with the sheriff. It will save money. It’s a duplication of services anyway, and let’s do it.”
Towns like Melville in 2015 and Arnaudville in 2013 & 2020 have already asked him for proposals. Even though he’s offered a lower price, their councils haven’t taken action toward making the change.
Replacing a police department isn’t easy. First, you have to wait for police chief’s term to expire, call a referendum for voters to abolish their police department, and get state legislators to abolish the chief of police elected position.
Arnaudville Police Chief Eddy LeCompte said he won’t rush the process. “I’m an elected official. I was elected with almost 60% of the votes in the last election. Until they vote me out, I’m going to stay here and do my job,” LeCompte told News 10.
Chief LeCompte didn’t want to comment on the reasons the Arnaudville council voted unanimously that they have no confidence in him and call for resignation, but in a June blog, he did comment on rumors of the Arnaudville Police Department being replaced.
“Any talk or consideration to eliminate the Arnaudville Police Department or decrease the number of officers, I view as an unfortunate result of political posturing on the backs of our citizens’ safety and protection. As I have said before, playing politics with your safety and protection will not end well.”Eddy LeCompte, Arnaudville Police Chief
Guidroz said he has all the respect for LeCompte, “I think he’s a great man, but there are some things they cannot accomplish because they don’t have the manpower or the resources. They’re doing the job that they can best do, but we think we can do a better job.”
The Sheriff’s Office not only has better pay, but also specialization such as certified detectives, sex offender training, juvenile investigators, and a trained SWAT team.
Guidroz said the money from a contract between a town and the St. Landry Sheriff’s Office would go toward overtime for deputies. Guidroz said people could expect one deputy working every 12-hour shift on patrols and another deputy in the area to provide assistance wherever needed.
“I think that’s the best thing that can happen for small towns in St. Landry Parish,” Guidroz stated.
News 10 reached out to the mayors of Washington and Melville about the possibility of replacing their police departments.
Washington Interim Mayor Dwight Landreneau said, “There are a lot of advantages, but there are some disadvantages. We’re looking at all angles, but at this point, we aren’t ready to have a sheriff takeover our police department yet.”
Mayor of Melville Velma Hendrix said, “We will have to look into it. I’ll have to check with my chief and council members…We’re trying to save money. We’re trying to cut everywhere we can cut, but we’re still in the same bind.”