Posted: Jun 11, 2012 6:31 PM by Erin Steuber
Updated: Jun 12, 2012 11:20 AM
City-Parish President Joey Durel is speaking out for the first time about the lawsuit filed against the Lafayette Police Department and Consolidated Government by ten present and former police officers. Durel says this is the first time in his administration officers are alleging "such ugly things about their own department."
"People can make charges. That doesn't make them true. There's perceptions and there's mis-perceptions and sometimes there's other motivations, so we need to find out what the truth is," said Durel.
He says within the next two days he will be asking the State Police or other outside agencies to conduct investigations to put an end to this as soon as possible.
"We have too many good men and women who work for our police department to have this kind of a black eye and to have these kind of ugly accusations about this police department," said Durel.
Durel says he wants to reassure the public that he will do everything in his power to pursue the truth.
"I take corruption extremely serious. It's one of the things that we don't need, we don't need those kind of allegations levied especially if they're false," said Durel. "That's why I take it so serious. That's about as ugly a word in my opinion as you can apply to local government or to any government. I guess my question is if this is all as bad as they say it is why now?"
The officer's Attorney Stephen Spring says the officers have stepped forward because "it's become intolerable, unjust and brazen at the police department."
For some background, all this was set in motion when the officers filed in district court on May 22. The officers claim racial discrimination, corruption and physical retaliation. At a May 29 hearing, the court denied a restraining order the officer's requested. But the officers are not backing down. They responded by filing a lawsuit in federal court. In response to the latest lawsuit LPD and LCG filed their own suit against one of the officers, Scott Poiencot. Why just him? He's a member of the Fire and Police Civil Service Board.
The suit against Poiencot alleges he's been showing favoritism and committed gross misconduct by, among other claims, secretly recording conversations with other officers since 2006. The lawsuit requests Poiencot be removed from the civil service board. But we were provided a recording from Poiencot's attorney that they say shows the faith Police Chief Jim Craft had in him to do his job.
"People can contact him and ask for advice and ask for input. I said, as long as he's objective and unbiased and does not, and I said I gotta tell you so far I've found him to be pretty fair," said Craft in a conversation on April 13,2012.
The officer's Attorney Stephen Spring has sent a letter to the city asking that they pay all legal costs in the case against Poiencot. They are sighting General Order 203.5 which says the city is required to pay any legal fees whenever an officer is met with civil litigation.