SORRENTO — The Town Council accepted the resignation of two town police officers Tuesday but postponed action on the layoffs of two other police officers and four unpaid reserve officers so council members can make sure proper legal procedures are followed.
Council members accepted the resignations of Officers Lynndell Aguillard and James L. Bell.
But Councilman Randy Anny said the layoffs of Officers Cathy Gil and Dan Hirsch had to be completed as dictated through the Lawrason Act — the state law governing the town of Sorrento.
Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr. said he had never sent a letter informing the pair they would be laid off and only verbally informed them during a meeting.
Theriot said that under the Lawrason Act, he should have informed them of the upcoming actions from the department two weeks in advance via a written letter.
Gil said Tuesday that the layoffs were done improperly and asked council members to postpone the matter until her attorney could attend the next meeting with her. Gil declined comment after the meeting and directed questions to her attorney.
Theriot also said at Tuesday’s meeting that he has come up with a new, state-of-the-art police department policy manual to be used if the Police Department ever is reinstated.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office is providing police protection for Sorrento at no charge to the town until Dec. 31.
At Theriot’s request, council members also invited retired Gonzales Police Chief Bill Landry to help the chief revamp the Police Department and its policies.
That prompted several members in the audience to clap.
The Sorrento Police Department has been shut down since Nov. 19 when the department’s insurance provider, Risk Management Inc., canceled the liability insurance policies for its officers and their vehicles.
Without insurance, Theriot would not allow his officers to patrol the streets.
Town officials said Risk Management cited the Police Department’s excessive number of claims as a reason for the cancellation.
The Police Department only received one bid for a new insurance policy, which council members found unsatisfactory.
At the last minute on Nov. 19, Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley offered free police protection until Dec. 31, which the Town Council accepted.