NEWS

Sorrento Council votes to rid town of police equipment; moving forward

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to get rid of the old things that bogged you down. That’s what the Town of Sorrento Council members voted 4-0 to do last week when it unanimously voted to declare all Sorrento Police Department as surplus. Councilman Randy Anny was not in attendance to vote.

Donald Schexnaydre was the first to move on the decision to get rid of the equipment, and Patti Poche seconded the motion.

“It’s time to move on,” Schexnaydre said.

Schexnaydre added that Ricky Smith, who works for the Lutcher Police Department, contacted him and the Lutcher PD wants to buy everything.

“That was his words,” Schexnaydre said. “They want to make an offer to buy everything.”

Sorrento Mayor Mike Lambert said he’s gotten some calls as well, but added he’s not promising anybody anything.

“I’ve told them all to give a list of what they’re looking for and we’ll do what’s in the best interest of Sorrento,” Mayor Lambert said. “There is a provision that we can do law enforcement-to-law enforcement exchange.”

Mayor Lambert expressed his concern for allowing the equipment to go out for public bid. He said he just doesn’t want to do that.

“I have some concerns with this stuff goes to the public. That’s just something I have a concern about,” Mayor Lambert said.

After the meeting, Mayor Lambert said his personal belief is to work with other law enforcement agencies.

“I have issues with civilians getting police equipment,” Mayor Lambert said. “I don’t want it to end up in the wrong hands.”

The town will assess and assign a value and follow the guidelines of disposing of all the items after the first of the year.

Schexnaydre reminded the council the longer these cars sit the lower their value is.

“We’ve probably lost in the last year $10,000,” Schexnaydre said. “I don’t know, but they are just sitting there.”

Mayor Lambert said after the meeting that he has to continue paying collision insurance on the vehicles and that’s a waste of the town’s money when they aren’t being used at all.

Councilman Marvin Martin said after the meeting the town is ready to move on and in the direction it wants to go.

“Things are starting to pick up for the town and we want it to keep going,” Martin said. “We don’t want it to stop up.”

Mayor Lambert agreed with Martin and added the opportunities the town has seen recently in the recreation department.

“With the community center and the parish is going to help us with recreational equipment, that’s a start,” Mayor Lambert said. “I think once it’s all done, it’s going to be very nice. We’re going small steps first.”

“We’ll be able to address more issues of the town and not spend time fighting with a police department,” Mayor Lambert said. “We finally have people in Sorrento saying, ‘we have a chance.’ We still have a long way to go, but we see some daylight. There is now hope.”

In the meeting, Sorrento Town citizen Robert DeBate said to Sorrento Police Chief Fern Barnett that he often gets embarrassed for her.

“We’ve had enough embarrassment in this town,” DeBate said. “We no longer have a police department and we still have a problem.”

“On Nov. 4 the voter’s of Sorrento showed they’re tired of the embarrassments and the lawsuits voted largely in a margin of 2-1 to abolish the Sorrento Police Department and the position of Police Chief. Fern you are not representing the wishes of the 66 percent majority. The work you perform is no added value to the Sheriff’s Department, which is now Sorrento’s law enforcement agency. Your legacy, Fern, should be of tireless effort that you gave to the various organizations that promoted Sorrento, and not someone who stood in the way of the wishes of the majority of the voters. I ask you to step down. Enough is enough.”

After the meeting, Chief Barnett did not comment. Mayor Lambert confirmed she has not been paid yet, for her role as the Chief of Police.