Sans Insurance, Police Chief Going Back on Patrol in Louisiana Town

January 14, 2014

Sorrento, La., Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr. and his assistant chief are going back on patrol, but without the special type of insurance coverages required for police patrols.

The town’s police department has been without liability insurance since coverage was cancelled by its insurer on Nov. 19, 2013.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley and Sorrento Mayor Mike Lambert said Theriot told them he intends to start patrolling again from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekdays.

Wiley tells The Advocate Theriot reported that “he will be on duty and subject to call.”

Lambert said that he and the council remain concerned about the financial risk to the town when Theriot and Assistant Chief Ricky Smith patrol without professional liability insurance on themselves or the type of insurance needed for their vehicles.

Lambert said the patrol vehicles are insured for administrative use, not emergency or police use. But Lambert acknowledged he and the council lack authority to stop Theriot from patrolling.

“He is an elected official. That’s his department,” Lambert said. “The council is concerned about this. It puts this town in a very bad position.”

The resumed police coverage would close the gap left under a deal the Town Council cut with Wiley last week to provide police protection through the end of March on weekday nights and 24 hours per day on the weekends for $36 per hour.

Wiley had been providing law enforcement protection for free since Nov. 19 when the town police department’s professional liability insurance was canceled by insurer Risk Management Inc. Efforts to find a replacement insurer have been unsuccessful.

Without insurance, the police department ceased patrols and now only Theriot and Assistant Police Chief Ricky Smith remain on the payroll.

 

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