Baldwin mayor speaks out about the city’s police chief disappearing: “Nine months now I have not physically laid eyes on him”

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BALDWIN, La. (KLFY) — The mayor of Baldwin is calling on the city’s police chief to do better after 15-year-old Quawan ‘Bobby’ Charles was found dead last week.

Mayor Phil Prejean says Chief Harry Smith has a long history of disappearing from his office and his duties for months at a time.

“I’m being conservative, probably nine months now I have not physically laid eyes on him much less had a conversation with him,” Mayor Prejean said.

He says it’s been a problem for years.

“It’s quite evident. It’s not like it’s something you have to look for to find out what’s going on. It’s just a matter of watching the door. He’s not there,” he added.

When Charles’ body was found in a wooded area in Loreauville on Nov. 3, his family said law enforcement didn’t do enough, questioning why the Baldwin Police Department didn’t issue an Amber Alert when they reported the teen missing on Oct. 30.

“Things are just building up. In this last incident where the missing child ended up being found in Iberia Parish, it just brought it up to where it’s bubbling over now, and something has to be done,” the mayor told News 10.

He says he doesn’t have the authority to fire Chief Smith. The only way to remove him from office would be if the chief resigned himself.

“Something has to be done. We can’t continue to go this way. The town deserves better, and the town’s paying for it to be quite frank with you,” Mayor Prejean said.

He says although Chief Smith isn’t fulfilling his duties, he’s still paid his full salary as well as $500 in state subsidies every month.

“You’re withdrawing a salary and not providing any service. I think that’s something that’s wrong. You’re on a full salary from the public, and you’re not providing anything in return,” he said.

Mayor Prejean says change is needed.

“I don’t know why he wants to be chief of police,” he said. “It’s kind of an either/or. You either do your job or you get out the way. I think the town deserves that.”

News 10 reached out to Chief Smith Thursday but has not heard back. We also went to the police department, however, he was not there.

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