Bobby Webre sworn in as interim sheriff

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Sheriff Webre is sworn in by Judge Alvin Turner Jr. Karen Webre is pictured holding the bible.

Sheriff Bobby Webre was given an inauguration ceremony for his promotion from Chief Deputy on the morning of January 10, 2019, and he called to mind Plato's philosophy of the guardian.

"As Plato wrote: In a republic that honors the core of democracy, the greatest amount of power is given to those called guardians," Webre told the audience. "Only those with the most impeccable character are chosen to bear the responsibility of guarding a democracy. Our office long ago embraced the guardian mindset to build public trust.

"We have adopted the right principles and the best practice to guide our interactions with the citizens that we serve. I know that building that trust and nurturing that trust between law enforcement and the community that we serve is just one of the foundational principles that we live by."

Former Sheriff Jeff Wiley announced in late July, 2018 that he would step down from his post if his daughter Erin Wiley Lanoux was elected judge in the November election. Since that occurred, Wiley opted for an early retirement.

Webre's Inauguration Ceremony indicated tremendous support for his promotion and was standing-room-only at the Gonzales Civic Center. The Army Band was also there, as a surprise for Webre.

APSO Captain Laura Gremillion served as Master of Ceremony. She introduced Webre by his early career in the military and in combat.

"There he learned about discipline, the importance of teamwork, and the foundations of strong leadership," she said.

Webre's 34-year career with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office is indicative of the philosophy that there are no "overnight wonders" in the department. He began by saying that those 34 years could not prepare him for the emotion he felt at that moment.

"Your outpour of support and friendship gives me a heart-warming feeling and a sense of gratitude that is beyond measure," he told the audience. "It also gives Karen and I a great deal of confidence as we transition into this next chapter in our lives. I thank each and every one of you for being here today."

Webre and Wiley both expressed their commitment to faith during their speeches. Father Rubin Reynolds from St. Mark Catholic Church gave the invocation. Reverend Dr. Irvin Briley Jr. from First Pilgrim Calvary Missionary Baptist Church gave the benediction.

"We will remain faith-centered," Webre said. "We start all formal meetings with a prayer and with the pledge. We still raise our right hand and swear an oath to God. We're not embarrassed by it. We're not afraid of it. We won't hide from it, and that's just the way it's going to be."

A chair was reserved at the main table for the late Col. Ward Webb.

"Jeff Wiley never met a challenge that he didn't like," Webre said. "His guidance will always be cherished and appreciated."

Wiley told the audience briefly of all that the sheriff does. He welcomed Webre into the annals of Louisiana and Ascension Parish history as sheriff, and reinforced the notion that there are no overnight wonders in the department.

"I look forward to continue doing what we do best, and that is fighting crime," Webre said.