Two local civic groups are hosting a forum for the people who want to be Lafayette's next chief of police.
The forum will take place on Thursday, September 29th at 124 S. Buchanan Street (Downtown Convention Center). The forum will start at 6pm.
The position is not elected, it is filled by the Mayor-President, but the NAACP Lafayette Branch and the League of Women Voters of Lafayette are hosting this opportunity for residents to hear from the hopefuls and ask some questions.
Four finalists made it through the qualification process required by state and local civil service laws, and passed the state chief of police civil service exam. One has since withdrawn.
The four finalists were former Louisiana State Trooper Brian Ardoin, Lafayette police Sgt. Dorian Brabham, retired FBI special agent Charles DeLaughter and Lafayette police Cmdr. Judith Estorge.
DeLaughter has since withdrawn his name from consideration. NAACP officials say that Ardoin and Brabham have committed to attend the forum but Estorge said she can't make it.
“This public event intends to introduce the Lafayette community to the candidates vying to be the next Police Chief. We understand the importance of this position for the City of Lafayette and the importance of public input in the selection process. This is an attempt at public participation and everyone is invited to come out and learn about the candidates and to ask any questions you might have. It’s important that we get this right," said Ravis K. Martinez, president of the local NAACP branch.
Here's a thumbnail of the three remaining candidates' resumes:
Ardoin is the owner/operator of a driving school in Mamou. He also has worked at LSU at Eunice as Director of Public Protection and Safety, and served as a Louisiana State Trooper for 10 years. He has a bachelor's degree from McNeese and a master's degree from Southern University. Ardoin graduated from the State Police Academy and is a licensed Louisiana Notary. He's a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and a native of Ville Platte.
Brabham is a Sergeant with the Lafayette Police Department. He has a degree in criminal justice from Columbia Southern University and is a graduate of the Louisiana POST academy. He has worked for the LPD for 20 years, working on major investigations, assigning cases and assisting with unsolved cases.
Estorge is a precinct commander who has worked for the Lafayette Police Department for 28 years. She has a degree in criminal justice from the University of Arkansas. As commander she's responsible for monitoring crime statistics and devising and implementing plans to curtail crime. She oversees the precinct budget, and makes contacts with community members, business owners and crime victims.
Back in January, LCG announced there would be a "national search" to fill the position.
Then in June, the Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service Board extended the application period for another 30 days at the request of the Guillory administration so that a search firm can be hired. Search firms were consulted, but none were "hired" to do a search. In all, nine people applied and only one was not from Louisiana.
That was an outcome similar to that of the last "national search" that LCG conducted for a police chief, back in 2020. Read about that here.
The Lafayette Police Department has had five chiefs of police since January 2020.
When Josh Guillory took office, he requested that Chief Toby Aguillard resign, reportedly because of a poor relationship with Sheriff Mark Garber. Lt. Scott Morgan was appointed interim chief.
The Guillory administration then hired Chief Thomas Glover from the Dallas Police Department, and fired him 10 months later. Sgt. Wayne Griffin was appointed interim chief, but two weeks later was placed on administrative leave pending a sexual harassment investigation. He was later fired, as well.
The current interim chief, Major Monte Potier, was appointed in October 2021.