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Some in opposition of new law allowing City Marshal to pocket fees paid by citizens

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Posted at 9:57 PM, Jun 09, 2021

There is some pushback on a new state law that will boost the salary of the Lafayette City Marshal.

The new law, signed by the governor this week, will allow the marshal to supplement his income with fees collected by his office.

If it sounds familiar, these are the same fees that contributed to the former city marshal's legal troubles.

The way the law was written, the marshals in Lafayette and Shreveport were forbidden from supplementing their income with fees. Former Marshal Brian Pope was indicted for pocketing those fees, even after he was told he couldn't.

Given the history with fees in the marshal's office, there are questions about why the law was proposed.

We found out a version of this law was proposed in the 2020 legislative session before the current Marshal Reggie Thomas was elected but the change has some questioning why it's necessary.

The new law, allowing the marshal to supplement his income with fees, will boost Marshal Reggie Thomas's salary from his base pay of $88,000 to $132,000.

Putting that in perspective here's what other top law enforcement in the parish make:

The sheriff oversees 735 employees with a salary of nearly $166,000 ($165,869).

The Lafayette Police chief is about the same as the marshal at around $132,000 but with 344 employees.

The marshal oversees about 25 employees.

"There's a man charged with 17 felonies, specifically for taking these fees. So my question was, where was somebody to take, you know, to take this to the Senate. When this man was being charged for taking these fees,” said Aimee Robinson.

Aimee Robinson spoke in opposition of the bill moving forward because of the previous city marshal Brian Pope.

"Moving forward without Brian Pope, would instill some hope in the city of Lafayette with a new marshal. I'm afraid that this is probably not going to do a lot to instill faith,” said Robinson.

The legislation was sponsored by State Senator Gerald Boudreaux, who explained why in committee.

"This will change the statute and provide clarity. It has the perimeters for what is acceptable for pay for the city marshal and it's consistent with what other marshals are doing,” said Boudreaux.

Shreveport is the only city in the state that does not receive this increase. We reached out to the marshal's office there and were told they are examining options to introduce something similar to the Lafayette City Marshal's office.

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