- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

SORRENTO, La. (AP) - Marred by lawsuits, federal charges and a disgraced former police chief, the Sorrento Police Department has officially been shut down by the town council.

The Sorrento Town Council unanimously approved Tuesday an ordinance to abolish the police department. The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1HsZy2h ) there little fanfare or reaction to the unanimous voted.

The town’s voters had agreed in November to abolish the Police Department and the elected police chief’s position. State law required that council adopt an ordinance officially shutting down the department. The town currently contracts with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office for police protection.

Councilman Don Schexnaydre said after the meeting that the Police Department’s closure will benefit the town tremendously as the town can now fully rely on educated and professional law enforcement officers for protection.

The town has sold or donated police equipment and guns to other Louisiana departments.

Abolishing the department has been a longtime goal of Mayor Mike Lambert, who vowed as part of his 2013 mayoral campaign to shut down the department after several scandals.

Among them: the actions of former Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr., who admitted to lying to the FBI about engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with a drunk woman he had picked up in his police cruiser in 2013. The woman has since filed a federal lawsuit against Theriot, accusing him of violating her constitutional rights.

Theriot’s replacement, Fern Barnett, resigned in February after public pressure, automatically abolishing the position.

Other scandals involved an officer who used a stun gun on a community college student because the student requested it, as well as an officer whose vehicle tracker revealed he had been speeding more than 720 times in a two-month period.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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