In St. Mary Parish, there are changes in store for the City of Franklin. A new mayor takes office July 1, and he’s already making plans for the city.
"When I take office July 1, I pretty much have a six-month plan of goals and operational procedures I plan on addressing, such as roads and streets," says Mayor-Elect Eugene Foulcard. He plans on using part of his budget and looking for grant money to fund repairs to roads, and he hopes to work with downtown businesses to promote tourism.
But, the buzz around Franklin is about the changes the mayor-elect plans to make in the police department.
"In our police department, we have some concerns there that I plan on addressing," says Foulcard.
KATC asked about rumors regarding replacing the current chief of police.
"Well, I plan on going a different direction; that’s one of the plans I do have," replied Foulcard. "I plan on going a different direction. Per our city charter, the mayor shall appoint a department head. The police department is one of five or six departments that the city of Franklin has," says Foulcard.
Police Chief Sabria Mcguire declined to comment, but KATC Investigates uncovered Mcguire, who has been with the department for more than two decades, is a civil service employee.
We reached out to the State Examiner of the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service System to find out what this means.
We learned that the system was set up in the 1940s and covers fire and police departments in larger towns and cities in the state. Franklin was added in the 1960s.
Hirings, firings, promotions and demotions within those fire and police departments in those towns and cities are governed by a set of detailed laws. The system was created to prevent newly-elected mayors and council members from removing firefighters and police officers without just cause.
"You can’t just come in and clean house of classified employees," said Deputy State Examiner Jackie Cummings.
Under the system, a police officer can still be fired, but it must be for cause, and a procedure must be followed. If that officer disagrees with the firing, he or she can appeal to the system’s board, which can reinstate him or her.
Cummings said that the Franklin police chief position is classified. That means she can’t be terminated or even demoted except for cause, and she has rights to appeal any termination or demotion.
Every police officer in Franklin is covered by the state’s Police Officer’s Bill of Rights. You can read that by clicking here.
Every firefighter in Franklin is covered by the state’s Firefighter’s Bill of Rights. You can read that by clicking here.
Despite that, the mayor stands by his plan, saying he hopes the current chief will work with him while he finds her replacement.
"That is my decision. I was elected by the majority of the people in Franklin, and I think the future of Franklin will be in good hands," says Foulcard.