SORRENTO — Despite an ongoing investigation into its Police Department, the Town Council voted Wednesday night to hire one full-time officer and advertise for the hiring of two more.
Tige Scott, a former full-time officer for the Sorrento Police Department, was promoted from the part-time reserve force, but not before receiving reassurance from Police Chief Earl Theriot that they will be able to work together moving forward.
Theriot, who is white, admitted to using racial language against Scott, who is black.
Theriot was asked by Councilman Jason Adams if he used “the N-word” in his previous dealings with Scott.
“Yes, yes I did. I’m not going to lie,” Theriot said. “I’ve been under a lot of pressure. I did it, and I’m sorry.”
Scott had expressed his concern over the “current climate” at the Police Department, adding he wanted “to make sure I’m OK.”
Adams said he felt the council needed to address Scott’s allegation, and he also said he thought Scott needed to hear that Theriot was sorry for what he said.
Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. said he was unaware of the incident between Theriot and Scott, but added he hoped the town could move forward after Wednesday night’s exchange.
“The man spoke up right here,” Longanecker said. “He had the option not to say anything ... but chose to man up to it, and the officer accepted his apology. We’re going to move forward from it.”
The Police Department, which has four officers and needs a clerk, is under investigation by the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the State Inspector General.
Longanecker said Sheriff Jeff Wiley told him the investigation is nearly finished. The mayor said he thinks the investigation will reveal “minor infractions” if anything.
Last month, the council fired Officer Cory R. Prine after he admitted to violating the departmental policy concerning the use of stun guns, and Assistant Police Chief Billy Ballard was fired for allegedly violating an undisclosed departmental policy.
Theriot, meanwhile, was asked to resign by Councilman Randy Anny after his comments to Scott came to light.
The chief, however, was remorseful and had positive things to say about Scott’s prior employment on Wednesday.
Anny expressed concern that Theriot’s racial comments would bias him against minority police officer candidates, and Theriot asked that two council members review job applications with him.
Anny volunteered himself and Councilman Milton “Needlenose” Vicknair for that job, and Longanecker said he also would be involved in the process.