Sorrento police chief wins fourth term

Earl Theriot will be back for a fourth term as Sorrento police chief.

Theriot, 64, had qualified in February as one of two candidates for chief on the April 6 ballot. His opponent, Jay LeBlanc, withdrew from the race, citing personal reasons.

“I just don’t have time to talk to you about it,” LeBlanc said when reached on his cellphone Tuesday afternoon.

LeBlanc, a 30-year-old deputy with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office and a volunteer Sorrento firefighter, had said after qualifying that he believed he could be a positive force for his hometown Police Department. LeBlanc said the town, to which he returned about a year ago, had much more potential than it currently was showing.

But LeBlanc won’t be the town’s next police chief. Instead, Theriot, will continue as the chief.

“I’m happy as a peacock,” Theriot said Tuesday.

The department hasn’t exactly run smoothly in recent months, as Theriot’s leadership had been questioned while the Police Department went through a period of turmoil.

In the past seven months, the Sorrento Police Department has been the subject of both internal and external investigations, seen the firing of an assistant chief and officer for violating department policies, and has been threatened with a lawsuit by three current or former officers over alleged harassment and retaliation tactics taken by Theriot.

Former Assistant Police Chief Billy Ballard was fired by the Sorrento Town Council in August for undisclosed reasons after an internal investigation by the council. That was two weeks after the council dismissed Officer Cory Prine, who admitted to violating police policy by demonstrating the effect of a Taser stun gun on a Louisiana Technical College student in 2009 after the student asked him to do so.

In November, Officers Catherine Gil and Kermit Givens and former Officer Tige Scott alleged “sexual and racial discrimination and harassment claims and retaliatory employee claims” against Theriot, though no formal lawsuit has been filed.

But Theriot said he’s hopeful that the department will see only improvement in the coming months.

“It looks like we’re going to have a new mayor,” he said. “I don’t know about the council … but we’re definitely going to have a new mayor. All the issues have been resolved. Everything looks good. I’m looking forward to hitting the streets, trying to drum up some new business, getting some more officers and getting some more protection for the people of this town.”