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Patterson Police Chief Patrick LaSalle (right) listened as the council discussed with the public their opinions and concerns about the ordinances calling for a charter amendment election to have an appointed police chief and term limits. LaSalle, who is an elected police chief, is currently serving his sixth term. Also pictured left to right, Mayor Rodney Grogan, city clerk Angela Shilling-Boyles, councilmembers Joe Russo, Sandra Turner, and Travis Darnell.
(The Daily Review/Ivory Bibbins)

No appointed chief for Patterson

Council rejects charter amendment proposal and term limits for police chief

PATTERSON — The power to elect a police chief will remain in the hands of the citizens of Patterson after the council chose Tuesday not to adopt ordinances calling for a charter amendment election.
During the public hearing, Mayor Rodney Grogan addressed rumors that the ordinances calling for the charter amendment were so that he may appoint a police chief.
“I am not in support of an appointed chief of police,” said Grogan, who has often been at odds with Police Chief Patrick LaSalle.
LaSalle addressed the council with his concerns about an appointed chief and about another proposal ultimately rejected, one imposing a three-term limit on an elected chief.
“It took 12 years just to get Patterson under control when I came here,” said LaSalle in opposition of term limits for the police chief. “You have to have time to understand the metrics of the city, know the people and know what the problems are.”
LaSalle is currently in his sixth term as police chief.
LaSalle also objected to the charter amendment because it doesn’t set out job responsibilities or academic credentials.
Citizens of Patterson addressed the council in favor of not having an appointed chief of police as well as not having term limits.
“If we are going to put a term limit on our chief then we need to put a term limit on everybody,” said Billy Badeaux.
“If it is not broke don’t fix it. … There shouldn’t be any term limits. Let the people decide,” said Pat Blanco.
“We are a safe town. … We are not Morgan City. We are not Berwick. They have an appointed police chief. If we are safe here and they are doing bad over there, could it be that they have an appointed chief?” asked Kara Hamlett.
Council member Joe Russo said that he agreed with the citizens who spoke.
“If the public is not satisfied, let the public decide who sits up here,” said Russo. “I am not in favor of an appointed police chief. I am not in favor of a term limit for the city council, mayor, or chief of police.”
After the public hearing, the council chose not to adopt the ordinances calling for a charter amendment election for an appointed police chief and term limits for the police chief.
But two other ordinances calling for charter elections were introduced.
The first proposal would allow the mayor to hire city employees, except those working in the police department, without the consent of the council. The mayor would need the council’s approval to discipline or terminate city employees.
The second ordinance would allow the chief of police to hire, discipline or fire employees in the police department with the approval of the council.
The council will take action on these ordinances during the next council meeting on Aug. 1.

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