Nov 15, 2011 11:02 PM by Maddie Garrett
Pine Prairie Police Chief Todd Ortis has been out for almost a week, and his absence has stirred up mixed feelings. That's because while he's on another job, he's still collecting a pay check from the city.
According to officers, Ortis has been out since last Wednesday because he took a temporary job in Alabama and will be gone for a few weeks.
"He's gone out of town for two to three weeks the most. He keeps in touch with us every day. He's going to make a little extra money for his kid for Christmas, I mean which you can't blame him given the times and the economy," said Officer Shane Guillory. "I mean everybody's trying to do a little something extra, make a little extra money. I don't see no harm in it."
But others see a problem with it, including the Mayor, Terry Savant.
"He didn't tell me, he told one of his officers and one of his officers told me about it. And you know, it's Todd's decision, he does what he wants to do," said Savant.
"I think he should either give up his salary, while he's making another salary, because he's not doing anything if he's not here," said Pine Prairie resident Wayne Ortego.
But because Ortis is an elected official, the mayor and council can't cut his pay or fire him. And the Evangeline Parish District Attorney stated "a chief of police is not prohibited by State Law from engaging in outside employment."
"So we have no control over what Chief Ortis does as far as going to work somewhere else if he wants to," said Savant.
The people of Pine Priarie could vote to change the chief's position from elected to appointed, and that would give the council and mayor more control over the chief's position. But then that also takes away the people's right to choose their own police chief.