2 proposals presented to council, but no vote
SORRENTO — Approaching the third month without liability insurance for the town’s Police Department, Sorrento officials are no closer to finding an insurance provider and seem to be at a standstill on how to solve the problem.
A motion by Councilman Randy Anny to have all insurance bids in three days before the Feb. 18 council meeting failed to get the backing of a second council member during Tuesday’s meeting.
Anny said he had hoped to resolve the insurance issue by the next meeting.
“Either way it goes, we finish this,” Anny said prior to offering his motion.
But the motion died and council members took no other action on the issue.
The Town Council did hear from two companies offering liability insurance policies for the Police Department.
Virgil Jonson, executive vice president of 3rd Millennium Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., presented a $45,324 annual policy from Prime Insurance Co .
Councilman Don Schexnaydre cited several issues with the policy. He noted that policy does not include assault and battery coverage, coverage for acts of sexual abuse and molestation, and it requires the town pay the first $50,000 of a loss before the coverage kicks in. That bumped the total policy cost upward of $95,000, Schexnaydre said.
“We don’t have it,” Anny said. “The town can’t pay it.”
Schexnaydre also asked Jonson to match the approximate annual policy the Police Department’s previous insurer, Risk Management, Inc., had provided.
Mayor Mike Lambert has estimated Risk Management’s annual policy at around $30,000.
“We can’t do it,” Jonson replied, later adding that no company “wants to take that kind of chance,” in offering a policy to a police department that has been involved in several lawsuits over the past few years.
Harold Williams, a broker with 1st Team Consulting Group, said he could reduce a proposed $85,000 annual “all-risk policy” from Indian Harbor Insurance Co., if the Town Council would give him about two more weeks to work on it.
Both proposals include vehicle coverage, Jonson and Williams said.
The Police Department has been without liability insurance for its officers and department vehicles because on Oct. 21 Risk Management Inc. notified the town it would no longer offer coverage effective Nov. 19.
Town officials have cited an excessive number of claims for the Police Department as a reason for the company’s policy cancellation but Risk Management officials has only said the Police Department failed to meet underwriting requirements.
With no insurance, Chief Earl Theriot Jr. has let go all full-time and part-time police officers except for himself and Assistant Chief Ricky Smith.
The pair is searching for a new insurance provider and revamping department procedures and policies, Theriot has said.
Although, Theriot initially refused to patrol Sorrento without insurance, he later changed his mind. He and Smith have been providing police protection from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Town Council recently voted to pay the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office $36 per hour through the end of March for sheriff’s deputies to patrol Sorrento during weekday evening hours and 24 hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ascension Parish Jeff Wiley has refused to allow his deputies to patrol Sorrento full time while Theriot and Smith are still employed.
Theriot, who was just elected to a fourth-four year term this spring, has refused to resign to allow Wiley’s deputies to patrol 24 hours a day.
In other issues facing the Police Department, Theriot declined comment on being named in a federal lawsuit accusing him of giving an intoxicated Ascension Parish woman vodka and forcing her to give him oral sex under his desk at the town Police Department.
Theriot referred all questions to his attorney, Roger W. Jordan Jr. in Gretna.