OPELOUSAS — A longtime Opelousas officer was arrested Friday on drug distribution and other counts after a months-long investigation by Louisiana State Police, who allege he obtained prescription pain medication from doctors and distributed the drugs at the city jail.
Sgt. Kenneth Edwards, 51, a 21-year veteran of the force, was booked with two counts of drug distribution, two counts of doctor shopping and two counts of introducing narcotics into a penal institution, State Police spokesman Trooper Stephen Hammons said.
Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow said he received information from the public about Edwards and it prompted him to contact State Police Superintendent Col. Michael Edmonson in October and ask for an investigation.
“It’s certainly a sad day for the Opelousas Police Department,” Gallow said.
Though Edwards spent most of his career as a patrol officer, he was the city jail warden for about a year until April, Gallow said.
Gallow would not elaborate on why he relieved Edwards of his duties running the jail last year.
“The public trusts in law enforcement … We cannot compromise that trust of law enforcement,” Gallow said.
Edwards has been on paid medical leave since October when an injury suffered while making an arrest forced him to take time off, Gallow said.
Though he was arrested Friday, Edwards remains on paid leave, Gallow said, citing Civil Service procedures.
“As detectives began their investigation, they determined that Edwards obtained the same type of pain medication from different area doctors,” Hammons said.
Hammons would not say whether Edwards sold the drugs, one of which was hydrocodone, to inmates. Hammons said Edwards is accused of distributing pain medication.
Gallow said Edwards had recently retired as a reservist in the U.S. Army.
State Police is wrapping up its investigation, and the St. Landry District Attorney’s Office will take over the case soon, Gallow and Hammons said.
If convicted, Edwards faces up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine on each of the drug distribution counts, up to five years and $5,000 on each of the doctor shopping counts and up to five years on each count of bringing drugs into a jail, Hammons said.
Hammons said that although “several” local doctors wrote prescriptions to Edwards, none is under investigation.