LAFAYETTE — The three challengers to five-term Lafayette City Marshal Earl Picard on Thursday voiced ways they’d run the office if in November they get more votes than the 83-year-old man who has run the agency since 1984.
Kip Judice, a 49-year-old Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office captain, said he’d step up minority hiring, look hard at ways to reduce costs and forge an alliance between the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office with colleges and high schools.
Brian Pope, a 49-year-old former City Marshal’s Office captain who resigned in January, said he’d carry out minority hiring policies he helped write for Picard that were never fully implemented.
Joseph Cormier, a 65-year-old former Lafayette city police officer and sheriff’s deputy, said he would cease arming deputy marshals with machine guns and police dogs, and, in a statement, questioned deputies having Taser stun devices.
“We don’t need automatic weapons or dogs,” Cormier said.
Picard made no apologies for how he’s run the office and equipped deputy marshals.
“The dog is a tool to save the deputies,” Picard said. “We carry Tasers. ... What? We should send these men and women out to get killed?”
All four candidates for Lafayette city marshal took part in the Lafayette League of Women Voters’ forum televised on AOC. The election is Nov. 4, with early voting Oct. 21-29. A runoff, if needed, will be Dec. 6, with early voting Nov. 22-29.
The City Marshal’s Office carries out the orders of Lafayette’s two city judges, such as serving subpoenas and picking up fugitives who have not reported to court when they’ve been ordered to.
All four candidates are armed with years of law enforcement experience. The three challengers said they offered change, such as more schooling for deputies and more transparency in the department’s finances.
But Picard stood by his 30-year record, defending the way the office operates now and what he’s built it into: an accredited, well-armed force that will travel the country to retrieve a fugitive.
Judice said he would look closely at the cost of sending deputies out of state for a fugitive wanted in city court on a minor offense. Judice also said the City Marshal’s Office duplicates some of the services provided by sheriff’s deputies.
“It is absolutely critical that all law enforcement agencies work together,” Judice said.
Pope, who worked under Picard for decades, said he would be more respectful of other agencies and “not try to control” what they do.
Pope also said he helped implement the current salary and benefits plan for deputy marshals and other department employees that stays in lock-step with the Lafayette Police Department’s.
Cormier, taking a jab at Picard’s tenure, said one person should not be city marshal for too long. Cormier said two terms — 12 years — is “adequate.”
Cormier and Picard have sparred in campaigns for city marshal before, most recently in 2008. Cormier ended up filing a federal defamation lawsuit against Picard in the months leading to that election, alleging Picard leaked damaging information to a television news reporter. A federal magistrate in 2013 ruled there was no defamation.
Even though he’s in his 80s, Picard said, he still can run the office efficiently.
“If I felt I couldn’t do the job, I wouldn’t be sitting here tonight,” he said.
If Picard is re-elected, he’ll be 89 when the term ends. He has said this campaign and the next term would be his last.