Lafayette Police major retires after his car is damaged

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The Lafayette Police Department lost another major to retirement when Ned Ewing left quietly and quickly in February after his department-issued Ford Explorer was involved in a wreck.

The wreck, which caused $2,153 in damage, reportedly occurred when someone drove onto the Police Department parking lot and rammed the Explorer as it sat empty on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

Ewing, 59, was a 33-year veteran of the department who most recently headed the Special Services Division, one of three divisions within LPD. He retired Feb. 4.

Police Chief Jim Craft said in December that Ewing planned to stay on the force until 2015. Craft made the statement as two other longtime majors — Detectives Division head Randy Vincent and Patrol Division chief Terry Head — were in their last days on the force and headed into long-planned retirements.

But Craft this month has declined to comment on what led to Ewing’s departure. Joy C. Rabalais, an attorney with Borne & Wilkes LLC, a law firm, responded to the latest request for comment on behalf of Craft and Lafayette Consolidated Government.

“We do not comment on personnel matters, nor do we comment on behalf of our employees as to reasons they choose to retire,” Rabalais wrote.

Ewing did not return messages left at his home Friday.

Rabalais said Provisional Maj. Kelly Gibson has assumed command of Special Services and that the provisional status will change once Gibson has taken and passed the civil service test for majors.

Ewing retired three days after he reported that his vehicle had been damaged, according to Lafayette Consolidated Government records released March 10 following a request made under Louisiana’s public records laws.

In an accident report, Ewing wrote that he parked the Explorer in the police parking lot at 3 p.m. Jan. 31, a Friday, then traveled in a personal vehicle to Baton Rouge. He returned at noon Saturday, Feb. 1, to find the vehicle had been damaged.

“During that time, an unknown vehicle struck the driver’s side quarter panel and fled the scene,” the accident report states.

The police report also states that alcohol or drug use was not suspected as a contributing factor.

Ewing wrote that when he walked to the Explorer after returning from Baton Rouge, he discovered the vehicle’s driver-side quarter panel was missing.

He also stated that he saw no debris lying near the wrecked Explorer, including the panel that had been knocked off. Ewing wrote that he drove the vehicle to his home, then called Chief Craft to tell him about the incident.

James Lejeune, who works in risk management for city-parish government, also noted the lack of debris at the crash site, according to a report.

Lejeune inspected the parking lot on Feb. 3. He stated it was possible that city-parish maintenance workers could have cleaned the area.

And there’s no video record of what happened. Police video surveillance doesn’t cover the area where the Explorer was parked, Lejeune said in the report, “and the service station cameras across University Avenue do not as well.”

Chief Craft in a Feb. 4 email alerted high-level police and government officials about Ewing’s departure, though he doesn’t explain why.

“Effective Feb. 4, 2014, Major Ned Ewing retired from the LPD. Major Ewing headed our Special Services Division and was involved with many departments for various projects. … Thank you for your patience and understanding,” Craft wrote.