Brusly council appoints Johnson interim police chief

The Town Council on Tuesday night unanimously appointed Richie Johnson, a colonel with the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, to serve as interim police chief following the elected chief’s conviction on malfeasance in office.

The council also set a special election Nov. 4 to elect a new police chief to finish the remainder of Jamie Whaley’s term.

Whaley is set to leave office Friday as a result of his recent legal woes.

Johnson’s appointment as interim police chief is effective Saturday. He will oversee a department of eight officers.

“We just want the people to know that we’re moving forward with police protection,” Johnson said shortly after his appointment at Tuesday’s special meeting. “The citizens should know there will be no gap in police protection, and I want to make sure there is a smooth transition between administrations.”

A few weeks ago, Johnson resigned as the town’s part-time assistant police chief, having served in that position for 20 years. He said he has no intentions of vying for the police chief position full time.

Brusly’s elected officials are in the second year of their four-year terms.

Qualifying for the special election will be Aug. 20-22.

Johnson was lauded by council members as the most-qualified person to step in and temporarily lead the Police Department.

Mayor Joey Normand added that residents should be proud of the Town Council’s decision.

“We’re ready to move on, and we will,” Normand said after the vote.

Last week, Whaley, 37, announced he would step down as police chief; three days later, he pleaded guilty to malfeasance in office.

A state District Court judge on April 17 sentenced Whaley to 18 months’ supervised probation and imposed a $500 fine in the plea deal.

Whaley was indicted April 10 on theft and malfeasance in office for using a town-issued credit card to purchase gasoline for his personal truck and boat.

Prosecutors dismissed the theft charges in lieu of Whaley’s guilty plea for malfeasance.

Whaley surrendered to police Jan. 23 after an investigation by the state Inspector General’s Office and the FBI revealed he had used a fleet services credit card to charge $1,120 in gasoline between Jan. 2, 2013, and Jan. 3.

Whaley met with the mayor Jan. 17 and wrote a check for $1,122.75 to reimburse the city for the transactions.

In addition to his $37,400 annual salary, Whaley, who was serving his third term as elected police chief, received a $1,000 monthly vehicle allowance from the town.

Whaley has previously said he intends to run for police chief again during the town’s 2016 general elections.