Chief to remind mayor, council he runs the department

Police Chief Gary Fontenot appreciates the mayor's interest in the police department, but reminds that he, not the mayor or the City Council, runs that department.

A tentative agenda for Tuesday night's City Council meeting includes an item from Mayor Bob Morris to eliminate the position of administrative supervisor in the department and stipulates a roll call vote on the matter.

Chief Fontenot, an elected official, says the mayor and the council are free to recommend or suggest alternatives to the way the department is structured, but notes its's his call, not theirs, and he plans to tell them so at the meeting.

The chief would have to work through the Fire and Police Civil Service Board should he want to abolish the position or any other, or create one.

He has said he intends to keep the post.

Morris has previously contended that the administrative supervisor's duties could be consolidated with other in-office jobs in the department. The chief thinks not.

The mayor raises the subject anew because the incumbent in post, Lt. Bruce Vige, plans to retire in January.

In addition to being administrative supervisor, Vige is also training officer/coordinator and evidence officer.

Regarding civil service, Fontenot also said at last week's agenda-setting meeting that he has learned law requires all positions reporting to him be under Civil Service if any are.

According to the chief, that means some employees in the Records Division and jailers not now in classified jobs must be enrolled under Civil Service regulations.

At that same meeting, Fontenot cautioned that a Police Officer's Bill of Rights enacted as state law establishes procedures whenever any complaint regarding an officer is received, and cautioned Morris, or anyone else, against questioning officers without following those procedures.

The chief said there are no formal complaints currently being investigated against any of his officers.

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