New Port Allen police chief says he won’t rehire challenger

Police Chief-elect Esdron Brown said Thursday he has no intention of allowing police Chief Ken Bates, whom he defeated in the Nov. 6 election, to continue working for the Police Department after Bates’ term ends.

Brown said he informed Bates over the phone Thursday he didn’t need him on a full-time basis.

The two men talked one day after Bates complained to the City Council that Brown hadn’t returned any of the calls he made asking to be hired on as a police sergeant.

Bates originally made his intentions regarding his future with the Police Department public at the Nov. 14 City Council meeting.

Bates said Brown told him Thursday he would not ask the City Council to hire Bates because he, Brown, felt Bates was trying to get rehired behind his back.

Brown did not return several calls later Thursday seeking further comment.

“I have been a dedicated police officer for more than 25 years,” Bates said in his office Thursday afternoon. “You would think an incoming chief would think a man with that kind of experience would be an asset to his department — especially during a time when we have had trouble finding good, qualified people.”

Bates, who is 51, said he is four months shy of retirement and had accumulated more than 1,900 hours of unused vacation and sick leave time — some of which he will now lose.

At the very least, Bates said, he had hoped Brown would let him continue as a member of the department until he could retire in June with his insurance benefits intact.

“You would think my dedication earned me that much,” Bates said. “We worked the road together without problems. I ran a good, clean campaign. If he would do this to a man that has never wronged or harmed him ... I just hope for the best for the citizens of Port Allen.”

Bates said Brown also told him he took issue with the current chief hiring a new police officer after the election.

“As chief, I’m still responsible for running the department until Dec. 31,” Bates said. “I’ve left several positions open and didn’t purchase any new vehicles so that he could build the department he wanted.”

Bates began serving as Port Allen police chief when he was appointed on an interim basis by the City Council in November 2011.

Bates got the job after former Police Chief Fred Smith was convicted on racketeering and fraud charges that resulted from Operation Blighted Officials, a federal investigation.

Bates won a special election in March to complete Smith’s unexpired term.

Bates said Thursday he’s now checking into all his options to determine what his next move will be.