The pool of 14 candidates who want to be Lafayette’s next police chief includes a few familiar faces but only two people currently employed by the department.
The deadline to apply for the job was Wednesday, and the Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service Board will meet next week to sign off on the list of applicants who meet the basic qualifications — a bachelor’s degree plus 10 years law enforcement experience in a department similar in size or larger than Lafayette’s.
The two current Lafayette officers seeking the job are Forrest Allen Blanton Jr., a sergeant who oversees planning and research with 18 years experience on the local force, and Philip Vaughn Burris, a captain and assistant to the chief with 26 years experience at the department.
Two other applicants have long histories in the local law enforcement community.
John Patrick Rogers ran unsuccessfully last year for Lafayette Parish Sheriff. He worked most recently as a litigation specialist in risk management at the Sheriff’s Office before leaving last month.
Joey Sturm has served since 2009 as police chief and director of public safety at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He also applied for the Lafayette chief position in 2006.
The other applicants are listed below, with their current or most recent job:
- Samuel Lee Wyatt, director of investigations for the Louisiana State University System, overseeing audits and fraud control.
- Don W. White, former sergeant at the Hurley Police Department in Hurley, New Mexico.
- Toby Jean Aguillard, director of the Internet Crimes Against Children Division and Sex Offender Compliance Unit at the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.
- Spyros Artemiou, freelance law enforcement consultant
- Jared Brandon Francis, a former Lafayette officer who is a graduate student in political science at the University of Southern New Hampshire.
- Nathaniel Clark, former deputy chief at the Albany Police Department in Albany, Ga.
- Mark Alan Kraus, deputy chief of police at the Lake Charles Police Department
- Derek Carl Pacifico, a high school criminal justice teacher in Tennessee.
- James Felix Benoit, a Louisiana State Police trooper.
- Patrick James Painter, an insurance agent.
Painter is the only candidate who seems to clearly not meet the qualifications. He does not have a college degree and has no law enforcement experience listed in his application packet.
City-Parish President Joel Robideaux may pick the chief from any qualified applicant who scores above the threshold on the civil service exam, which is scheduled for Aug. 11.
Robideaux said earlier this week he expects to name a new chief within the next three months to replace former Chief Jim Craft, who retired in January.
The man Robideaux named as interim chief, Reginald Thomas, cannot apply for the job because he does not have a bachelor’s degree, though he does have an associate’s degree and 25 years experience at the department.
Robideaux had sought to ease the bachelor’s requirement, giving credit for extensive experience in lieu of a degree. However, the Fire and Police Civil Service Board rejected the proposal.
Robideaux and others who supported the change argued it would have opened the door for a more diverse pool of candidates, including Thomas, who is black.
Of the current pool of 14 applicants, 11 are white and three are black. No women applied for the job.