Disgraced Police Department in Sorrento, Louisiana, still not abolished despite scandals

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SORRENTO, Louisiana — Marred by lawsuits, federal charges and a disgraced former police chief, the Sorrento Police Department appears to be weeks away from being officially abolished.

The Sorrento Town Council unanimously moved forward Tuesday with an ordinance to close the town's Police Department, The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1OdXYrL ). The council will likely vote on the matter after a public hearing at its May 19 meeting.

The town's voters had agreed in November to abolish the Police Department and the elected police chief's position, but by state law Town Attorney Matthew Percy says the council must adopt an ordinance officially shutting down the department. The town currently contracts with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office for police protection.

The town council has voted to sell off or donate police equipment and guns to other Louisiana departments, with the hope that the weapons stay off the streets.

Mayor Mike Lambert says sales of the equipment have so far netted the town about $12,000.

Abolishing the department has been a longtime goal of Lambert, who vowed as part of his 2013 mayoral campaign to shut down the department after several scandals.

Among them: the actions of former Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr., who admitted to lying to the FBI about engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with a drunk woman he had picked up in his police cruiser in 2013. The woman has since filed a federal lawsuit against Theriot, accusing him of violating her constitutional rights.

Theriot's replacement, Fern Barnett, resigned last month after public pressure, automatically abolishing the position.

Other scandals involved an officer who used a Taser on a community college student because the student requested it, as well as an officer whose vehicle tracker revealed he had been speeding more than 720 times in a two-month period.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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