Four men are running to lead the Walker Police Department following Chief Marliam Lee’s retirement, including three men already serving among its ranks.
The election is Nov. 8, with early voting beginning Oct. 25.
The candidates for police chief are David Addison, a corporal in the department’s traffic division and former police chief in Wilson; Joey Booth, a former Louisiana State Police trooper and owner of a consulting group focused on emergency response and planning; Chris Dufour, a lieutenant and chief of detectives for Walker police; and William Lawson, a military veteran and four-year member of Walker’s traffic division.
All four men are Republicans.
Addison, 63, said his appointment as police chief in the East Feliciana Parish village of Wilson is the only time he has held public office. He also served as assistant chief in Krotz Springs, as well as working for the Department of Corrections at Angola State Penitentiary, he said.
He has been with the Walker Police Department since 2001, serving in the uniform patrol division until 2013, when he moved to the traffic division.
He said he is running to become Walker’s police chief because he cares about the community and wants to “put a balance between the people and the police department.”
Addison said he intends to focus on providing the community with “good, ethical, trained, caring officers” to build trust between the city’s residents and its police force.
“I’ve worked so much in Walker, I know our weak points,” he said. “If I win, I’m going to start a Rapid Emergency Deployment, or RED, team to have officers in place for mass disaster, active shooter training and anti-terrorism work.”
The six-person team also would be trained in mass transit movement, to help with traffic during incidents along Interstate 12, he said.
Booth, 61, served with the Louisiana State Police for 28 years, rising through the ranks to become deputy superintendent before going into the private sector. He worked at Northrop Grumman and later founded Thompson Booth LLC, a consulting firm that does emergency response and planning for both private-sector and government clients.
He is a past executive director at LSU’s Stephenson Disaster Management Institute.
“Law enforcement is who and what I am,” Booth said. “I was raised in a law enforcement household and never want to do anything else.”
A graduate of the FBI Academy, Booth said he has prepared himself for high-level law enforcement leadership and will be an innovative leader.
“I believe now is an important time in our country’s history to have seasoned and experienced leadership,” he said.
Noting that he moved to Walker four years ago, Booth said he loves the city and wants to offer his experience and training to his community.
“I believe small-town law enforcement is going to face increasingly difficult challenges, and frankly, I think they need people like me,” he said.
Dufour, 45, is a lifelong member of the Walker community and a 22-year veteran on the force, currently serving as chief of detectives.
“When I started, Walker was a small town, and the department didn’t have a lot of equipment or training,” he said. “My biggest fear is for us to go backwards. I really want to make sure the police department gets better, make sure the citizens of Walker are taken care of and we continue to progress.”
One of Dufour’s primary goals would be to foster a better relationship between the department and the community it serves, he said.
“I believe we’ve gotten away from that,” Dufour said. “Years ago, it was nothing to be out on patrol and stop and talk to people. Everybody knew the officers. We’ve grown and gotten away from that, but we’re still not so big that we can’t do that.”
Dufour said he also would like to see better training and to get the department’s reserve program up and going again, as well as increase involvement with the schools.
“We have seven schools in the city limits and only one school resource officer,” Dufour said. “I personally don’t believe that’s enough.”
Lawson, 50, served 12 years in the United States Air Force, followed by eight years in the Louisiana Army National Guard, before becoming an officer in Walker’s traffic division four years ago.
The Long Beach, Mississippi, native has lived in Walker for 20 years and said he is running for police chief because he believes changes are needed.
“Nothing drastic,” he said. “But I believe the leadership I gained in the military will help me lead us in the right direction. We need to make sure our department grows as Walker grows. This city’s one of the fastest-growing in the state right now.”
Lawson said he believes the department needs to return to community policing, “not just ride around in patrol cars but actually get out and talk to people.”
He said the 10 years he spent as a military recruiter put him at ease talking to people. Now he wants to do the same for the police department.
“If you run into a situation, people aren’t afraid to talk if they’ve already talked to you in the past,” he said. “It’s the same with business owners in town. If you talk to people on a personal level, then when something happens they don’t mind talking on a professional level because you’ve already built rapport.”