O’Quin steps forward in hopes to lead Sorrento PD

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley

As of the last town meeting, there is at least one person who is interested in getting the Sorrento Police Department “straightened out” and his name is Ronnie O’Quin. O’Quin isn’t a native of the town, and he has absolutely no experience in any police department, yet he told the council members and mayor he wants the job as interim Police Chief.

“I didn’t come to speak tonight but I feel that the town is at a cross roads with our police department,” O’Quin said to the council members and Mayor Mike Lambert.  “Things need to be done and we need to get some dignity and honor back to it. I’d like to try to do that.”

“I know that we’re going through some rough times, but I’m here to serve the people and protect the people. That’s what I’m willing to do. I can’t do it without the help of the council and the town mayor and the people of Sorrento but I would like to do it.”

O’Quin admitted he has no police background but said he would hope that “we could work with this council because without them, we have a problem.”

As the deadline to appoint an interim police chief approaches, the council hoped to have more information from any person wishing to fill the vacant position, especially more than O’Quin presented at the meeting. The only council member who was familiar with O’Quin’s request was Randy Anny.

Anny brought up to the council that O’Quin was interested in the position and initially motioned to have him serve as the interim Police Chief.

“Mr. Ronnie O’Quin wanted to be appointed that position and he thinks that he can do a good job,” Anny said. “So I’d like to make a motion to appoint Mr. Ronnie O’Quin to that Chief of Police position until the election in November.”

O’Quin, 60, a resident of Sorrento for 18 years work experience includes one year as a Wildlife and Fisheries “special agent” in 1986, said he was ready to conduct regular patrols in Sorrento “if that’s what is needed.”  He currently works as a lead technician at Air Products. He said he also taught at Ascension Vocational Technical Institute for 13 years.

However, his newly discovered interest and resume were unknown to the other council members. Councilwoman Patti Poche had a real problem with that.

“You say you want to work together.  Shouldn’t you have gotten in touch with all of us before tonight?” Patti Poche said, asking O’Quin.

Councilman Marvin Martin asked Assistant Chief Ricky Smith to offer an opinion.

“What we need is a figurehead,” Smith said. “We need someone to step in so that we can work with regaining our insurance.”

Smith said while he was on vacation he got a call from an insurance agent and was told the department can’t do anything until a chief is appointed.

After the meeting, O’Quin said he wasn’t fond of the idea of being just a “figure head” for the department as Smith suggested to the council in the meeting. O’Quin and Smith had never officially met before the meeting but O’Quin said he feels that someone has to work with the officers and be out in the community.

As far as O’Quin’s plan to get the police department insured, he isn’t quite sure how that’ll work either.

“I have nothing on my record, I’m clean and I’m just hoping that the insurance company will insure me [the department] because of that,” O’Quin said. “I’m going to try to motivate them to insure the department off of that.”

Harold Williams, who appeared at the last town meeting but requested 10-15 days to provide a final insurance quote, informed the Council by letter that First Team Insurance had withdrawn its initial offer.

Anny’s motion to appoint O’Quin did not receive a second and he later rescinded the motion, and instead moved to table the matter to give the other members of the council time to meet and learn more about O’Quin. 

If appointed to interim police chief, O’Quin said he would want the police officers to “drive safely, and have respect for the citizens that are on the road.”

Sorrento must appoint an interim police by February 27 or the task will fall to Governor Bobby Jindal.

The council voted to adopt a proclamation to call for a special election on November 4, 2014 and a runoff election, if necessary, to follow on December 6.  Qualifying for the election will be August 20-22.

The Sorrento Police Department had been suspended since the cancelation of its liability insurance on November 19, 2013. The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office has patrolled on a part-time basis between 4:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours on weekend days.