Sorrento Police Chief talks conspiracies, schemes and vendettas


sorrentoSorrento Police Chief Earl Theriot invited The Creole to his office on Thursday mid-morning to respond to the numerous questions being asked with regard to his plans for the police department.

“I have to get my side out,” Theriot said as he extended the invitation “because there is a total vendetta against the police department, and I am sick of being bashed by certain officials.  I’m fed up and I really don’t care anymore.”

As this reporter waited outside of town hall for the appointed time, Officer James Bell emerged from police headquarters and initiated a discussion concerning certain unflattering articles published in The Creole.  The discussion turned animated and Assistant Police Chief Ricky Smith intervened.  Chief Theriot described the mood pervading throughout the department by way of explanation for Officer Bell’s disposition.

“All of my officers are going to lose their jobs as of November 19,” Theriot said.  “They are very frustrated and angry.  How would you feel in their shoes?  As of that date it will only be me and Ricky Smith left.”

Theriot was referring to the fact that, as of November 19, Sorrento PD will be without liability insurance coverage.  He was informed that the insurance will be terminated by insurance provider, Risk Management, at a Monday, October 21 meeting.  The Chief believes the decision to terminate his department’s coverage is the result of an orchestrated effort involving Sorrento’s recently installed mayor, Mike Lambert, who did campaign on a platform that included the elimination of the police department.

“The mayor sat right where you’re sitting across from my desk about a month ago and said to me, ‘Why don’t you let me do away with the PD and then you can sit back and collect your pay check without all the headaches,’”  Earl Theriot claimed.  “I know that Mike Lambert met with Risk Management sometime in August to discuss Sorrento PD.  Why wasn’t I invited to that meeting?  What did they talk about?  Did they decide back in August to take this action?  Why take the action now when everyone has known for a while that I’m having surgery on November 4 and will be out two months?”

A tale that is simply untrue according to Risk Management’s Jerry Cronin to Theriot’s assertion that Sorrento PD’s insurance coverage was terminated as a product of the mayor’s behind the scenes machinations.

“It was a business decision and nothing more.  We did have a meeting at which we instructed the new administration in policies and procedures and nothing more.  Insurance coverage is included in that presentation. The only time I met directly with Mayor Lambert to specifically address this issue was 20 minutes before I met with the police chief on Monday,” he said.  “I provided the mayor and police chief with Risk Management’s letter terminating insurance coverage.  The police chief received the letter only as a courtesy since I deal only with the mayor as the party who has the authority to contract on behalf of the town.”

Earl Theriot insists that Mayor Lambert’s motives are less than pure.

“Now he’s (Mike Lambert) claiming that he’s out looking for insurance quotes,” Chief Theriot continued.  “That’s bull.  He already told me it’s completely on me.  They set it up to go like this.”

Theriot stated that the department awaits receipt of five quotes from various insurance providers in the effort to replace that which will be terminated.

“We’ve even been approached by certain citizens who have researched the issue and tried to obtain insurance quotes,” according to Assistant Chief Smith.  “The town wants us here because they know our officers are only a few minutes away when they need us.”

“But it doesn’t matter,” he lamented.  “Even if we receive a quote for the same price that would provide the same coverage the council has to approve it.  And the council will refuse to approve anything that would allow the department to continue. It’s the mayor and four of the five councilmen lined up against me,” Chief Theriot claimed.  “There have been acts by certain council members that violated our ordinances and the state code of ethics, but I have been discouraged from writing citations.”

Theriot believes that to be evidence of a political alliance acting in concert against him.

Mayor Lambert insists that he has never conspired with Risk Management, or anyone else, to effectuate the termination of Sorrento PD’s liability insurance.

“LMA and Risk Management briefed the incoming administration on all relevant matters in Sorrento’s operation,” he said “and that included insurance coverage for the town.  There may very well have been concerns expressed about various parts of the coverage. Yes, I have talked to Chief Theriot about stepping aside because I believe it to be best for Sorrento,” Lambert went on.  “As I’ve said before, if he’s going to dig in I’ll do what I can to make the best of the situation, and that includes reviewing alternate insurance.  I have made calls and I’m waiting on a quote.  I have discussed the matter with Risk Management, and I’ve been told that it is highly unlikely that any provider will quote an affordable rate.”

Theriot went on to claim that each administration since 2001 has tried to thwart him.

 “They all have attempted to discredit the police department of Sorrento,” he said. “Councilman Anny, when he was the acting Mayor, things were beginning to move forward.  We had conversations with a hotel chain and other businesses about locating in Sorrento. Anny got the Levee Board to donate equipment to the town and there weren’t all the disruptions and adverse media coverage,” he said.  “Then, Mayor Longanecker returned.”

“Maybe that is indicative of a problem in Earl Theriot’s leadership if every administration and mayor has tried to discredit him,” Mike Lambert responded.

According to Theriot, Risk Management’s Jerry Cronin informed him that it is terminating Sorrento PD’s liability insurance because two current officers were hired without following psychological testing protocol in the form of Matrix testing.  Chief Theriot and Assistant Chief Ricky Smith both claimed that they have heard from other sources that the reason for Risk Management’s action was “an excessive number of claims against the department.”  Smith cited a representative of the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police as one source.

They addressed both issues.

“Through communications with our insurance carrier, we understood that all we needed was a passing personality matrix test,” Ricky Smith said.  “We hired officers who had passed the test during the hiring process at other police departments.”

Sorrento ordinance 42-26(7) requires that prospective officers pass the matrix or other psychological test that is acceptable to the chief of police and the liability insurer.

“The Chief made the decision to hire the officers in question because they had passed a test administered by another department.  We understood that the decision was up to Chief Theriot when the officer candidate had passed a test.  We have never hired an officer without a passing score,” Smith continued while conceding that Risk Management was not consulted before hiring the officers in question.

As to the allegations that there have been excessive claims against Sorrento PD, Earl Theriot responded.

“There have only been six claims against the department since I became chief in 2001, and all six were settled by Risk Management,” he said.  “We pay Risk Management.  Aren’t they supposed to represent the town against lawsuits?  Risk Management has never gone to trial on any claim.  They are always too eager to settle claims even when I insist on going to trial.  I wouldn’t have settled most of those claims, but it was my name on the line.  Risk Management has never cared about Earl Theriot’s reputation.”

The sexual discrimination claim made against Earl Theriot by Officer Cathy Gil is the one that most sticks in Theriot’s craw.  Gil asserted that she received an obscene text which had been transmitted from Theriot’s phone.

“A lot of it I can’t talk about, but I assure you that I did not want that claim settled,” he insisted as he protested his innocence.  “I had lost my phone at the time the text was supposedly sent.  She initially claimed that the text had been sent from Assistant Chief Smith’s phone.  That claim could never have been proven, but I had no chance to clear my name.”

Chief Earl Theriot then became introspective.

“In the end we must protect the people of Sorrento, and that’s what I’m most interested in,” he said.  “Whatever happens I want to thank Sheriff Jeff Wiley and make sure he knows how much I appreciate what he’s doing to protect Sorrento and its citizens.  I look forward, and would appreciate the opportunity, to work with him to resolve all these issues.”


Comments

  1. Why can't Theriot sell tickets to the circus with Anny as the ringleader.

  2. dummies running sorrento says:

    What is it with this town. We all know the mayor is behind this because of his personal agendas. We all know he met with Risk management before all this happened. He should remember the old articles that have been published. look back. The law suit that had nothing to do with his administration. Releasing confidential information. By the way thats not over either talking to other people.I know for a fact as past employees of sorrento police had the same matrix test from other departments and it was ok back then. why is it an issue now. how can you fire the whole police department what about the ones that took the test thru risk management but yet are getting terminated too.The mayor says he the law enforcement lets see his commission with what department. He couldn’t protect anyone of us. He says there is a possible recall. I hope its on him because his only agenda is to shut the town down. If he didn’t want the town to succeed as a whole why did he run. Maybe he should step down he’s nothing but a loser too. I bet his father the rolling over in his grave seeing what he the doing. Im glad the mayor approves work to be down on mowing private lots and getting work done in front of his home and councilman’s schexnayders house too. Oh ya they are related by marriage. I bet you will see them together tonight. I hope the chief finds insurance to cover his department so he can throw it in the mayors face. I remember when the sheriffs office covered us before and we had to wait 45 minutes to an hour for response because they are busy. I remember back then a deputy was supposed to be just in sorrento. we all now that didn’t happen. i know i don’t want to wait that long if someone the robbing a strs or getting beat up by a spouse or a break in. I know the police can do there job in sorrento. And i don’t care what they say they don their job to the best of their ability. i know they can be there in a few w minutes not 45 minutes to an hour. I’ve heard the town has to pay these officers their unemployment as the town does not have unemployment insurance. So how they going to pay the sheriff and them. Why not just pay the officers they have you have to pay them anyways. What money did they save doing it this way. none dummies. my two year old can figure that out. Guess the mayor didn’t think that thru.oh yeah got to have a brain to figure that out. you ever notice when the shit hits the fan the mayor disappears. sounds like longnecker is back maybe they are related.

  3. plant worker says:

    Lol we all know that Sorrento P.D. can get there fast that has been proven!!! TEAMWADE#1FAN!!!

  4. Davitwayne Pops says:

    Shut the mother down all they were there tor was setting up speed traps and they screwed that up

  5. If people would not speed then tickets would not be issued. Speed limits are there for reason.
    The chief is an elected official. The only way to get him out is by recall or him stepping down. Since the sheriff stated that he would not enter the town limits as long as the chief is in office, then its the people of Sorrento who will suffer. The state police will respond to accidents on US 61, La 22, and I-10 but that’s all.
    The people of Sorrento need to decide what their fate will be.

  6. Since the mayor’s ran on a platform to dissolve the police department and town council, why doesn’t he just get the council to ask the state for an election to dissolve everything and let the people of Sorrento decide at the poles

  7. K Le Blanc says:

    The same for Bell, unless it’s an emergency he can’t go over the speed limit even if he the President of the USA, the fact that the chief of police and the city attorney knew about his misdeed’s and did nothing about made matters worse, quit your waah waahing and deal with ya’ll own stupidity.

  8. Rofl Dat Wafl says:

    I think it’s odd that Gil was SO offended by the supposed text sent from Earl, that she had to sue over it, but could still stand to look at Earl everyday. If that text really hurt her feelings that much and made her so uncomfortable as to have to seek monetary retribution, then that same discomfort should have driven her away from that place of employment. In my opinion, she’s full of it. She can’t leave the force because no one else will have her as an officer. She’ll never again hold a job with any kind of status an as authority figure, and she can’t handle that. That being said, if RM is dropping coverage because of multiple suits, she’s part of the problem. So if they aren’t able to obtain coverage, I hope she is comfortable knowing that her suit was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back. I say so because her suit was not long ago, and has been the last one to occur before RM announced they were not renewing coverage. That, or the fact that in Bell’s wreck, the Troopers found him at fault, and its already been reported that the other party involved in the wreck has obtained an attorney.
    With as many complaints that have been lodged against Bell and Gil by the citizens, one of Earl’s obvious mistakes is that he won’t get rid of these officers the moment it becomes apparent that they are abusing their authority. Placing letters in their files only shows cops like these two, that they can do what they want, over and over and over – just like children – if you don’t punish them, they will continue their behavior until some has enough when things go too far.
    Earl has employed great cops, but officers that behave in the ways described above definitely offset any good that may exist in that department.

    • dummies running sorrento says:

      Well obviously you don’t know all your facts about the suits or theses officers. I know chief and these officers. the case with Gil was not only about a text if you would read you would know that and besides that most the facts were confidential due to minor children being involved. At least you saw these officers on the road. i know one officer barely left the office and would only respond to calls if he had to and was under investigation more than once. now he still sits in office and is fixing to take chiefs place while he is out for surgery. one question how can you keep him if he is not an elected official regardless if chief the going to be out???? The insurance choice to cancel the policy has something to do with the corrupt mayor. He has his vendetta against chief. If he wants the town to shut down then tell the people that and put it to a vote. enough is enough. people want to complain about the officers doing their jobs because obviously the ones complaining were caught doing something wrong. The mayor needs to get out of office to because he the not there for the town just his own vendetta against the police. i hope the chief finds insurance to cover his department. Good luck chief.

  9. Everyone has to be right says:

    @ Dummies, I know that story in its entirety, because the father of the minor involved told me in his own house, and if you and I were told the same story, then you know it could’ve gotten a lot worse and I am personally surprised that it didn’t. I know about Billy, Corey, and Cathy. Of course I’m not going to pour it all out here to prove it to someone I don’t even know, because its not my story to tell.

  10. Shantell Wilson NOT AFRAID TO TELL MY NAME says:

    Just a little tad bit of information. Earl can not fire or hire police officers without going through the town council. They give permission to hire and fire. He puts the officers up for hire and fire and it is up to the town council to rule on both. So, in my opinion the town council is at fault too because they are the ones that hired the officers, so shouldn’t they have just as much responsibility for the officers actions. So if you are going to blame the police department then they should be blaming their selves or the previous council as well.

  11. WishICouldSay says:

    Sorrento police should have been taken out a long time ago. APSO will do a much better job in the town and will offer a better quality of law enforcement. It is very well known that Sorrento pd scrapes the bottom of the barrel when they hire people and always end up with rejects from other departments.

  12. You need to do some checking about the Sorrento police officers. The last one that was hired is retired from Orleans Sheriff Office. He is also a POST Instructor for the State of La, Radar/ Lidar, and SFST instructor. At the meeting when he was hired in July 2013, he was brought in to start training the other officers.

    • WishICouldSay says:

      Beau,
      When I said it was very well known that Sorrento scrapes the bottom of the barrel when they hire people, you’re obviously not “in the know”. First, the newest hire and the claim he’s going to train those officers is funny. There are a lot more fields in LE besides radar/lidar and sfst. I too am an instructor myself and would never leave from what I’m doing to make it my primary job to train Sorrento pd. Do some homework and check why Kathy is not at apso anymore and why Bell is not at Baker pd anymore. I could keep going, but I’d rather stop and just watch this circus over there.

      • WishICouldSay,
        You’re right I must not be in the know. The info you’re referring to about Kathy and Bell, is it a matter of public record or you got the info because you’re in LE. As for the newest hire I was under the impression that a POST instructor taught in the academy and had to keep up on the laws and stuff to teach others. The other things that you spoke about above were taught after the academy.

  13. RPCC Student(s) says:

    The majority of these tickets came from college students at RPCC. They sit around there and pulled over hundreds of students for a variety of reasons. Honestly the majority of the school is enjoying this whole ordeal. And not seeing the mullet cop or James Bell (speedy gonzales) anymore is bringing more joy than you would imagine.

  14. A POST instructor? The had a chance to hire someone with more than that, but Earl and Ricky didn’t want him around, because they knew that he wouldn’t keep the dirty secrets. The Council lost it’s nerve and let Earl have his way and hire more Losers, so I wonder what they think about the sex with the drunk woman, they need to have the State Police investigate that, because Earl would end up in Prison, where he belongs.