“Earl Theriot has indicated to me that he wants to remain as Sorrento’s chief of police and he will not resign,” Lambert said Wednesday evening. “We discussed what this means for the town and its citizens in light of the fact that the police department’s liability insurance will lapse as of November 19. As I told Chief Theriot, I am willing to do whatever I can to help sort out all the issues that are confronting Sorrento and its police department.”
Risk Management is Sorrento PD’s current liability insurance provider but will terminate the policy due to an excessive number of claims lodged against the department as well as the department’s hiring practices. Risk Management, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Louisiana Municipal Association and is operated under the auspices of a board of directors comprised of Mayors from participating Louisiana municipalities. Sorrento is one such municipality.
“We pay annual premiums in the neighborhood of $30,000 for liability coverage on the police department,” explained Mayor Lambert. “We receive that rate because we are one of a large number of Louisiana municipalities that participates,” he said, likening the liability coverage to group health insurance. “I think we’re going to receive quotes from other potential insurers, but those quotes will reflect the true marketplace. My expectation is that the annual premiums to insure the police department are going to greatly exceed the rates that were paid to Risk Management.”
The question then becomes whether the Town of Sorrento can afford to absorb the additional cost into a budget that is already stretched to the breaking point. Sorrento’s five member council would then be tasked to answer that question. Add into the mix that Chief Theriot has major surgery scheduled for November 4 and will be on leave for the following two months.
“I have to play the hand that I’ve been dealt,” said Mayor Lambert. “I believe that I have received a commitment from Chief Theriot to do everything in his power to achieve the best result for the town and the people who live in Sorrento. What I believe to be the best result and what the Chief believes may be two very different things. I will continue to work toward finding a solution and I’m willing to explore every available option.”
Chief Theriot confirmed much of what Lambert had to say in a telephone conversation with The Creole Thursday morning.
“We did meet yesterday and discussed a wide range of topics,” said Theriot. “It would be totally irresponsible of me to resign when so many issues need to be addressed, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that Sorrento and its residents are afforded all the protection they deserve. We certainly cannot leave the police department unattended even for a day,” he added noting that a large quantity of narcotics and weaponry is stored in evidence at Sorrento PD headquarters.
Theriot expressed his displeasure with Mayor Lambert who Theriot claims has “been going around telling people that my department is over-budget. That’s bull. My department has given money back to the town the last three years to keep Sorrento afloat. He needs to learn how to read a budget.
“I have also learned that the Mayor met with Risk Management back in August to discuss the police department, and I was not informed of this meeting until recently. What was discussed in that meeting?” Theriot was left to wonder as he alluded to a concerted effort by the Mayor to “get rid of my department.”
Chief Theriot is not going anywhere without a fight, and he confirmed that insurance quotes are being solicited for the purpose of providing liability coverage for Sorrento PD.