PLAQUEMINE — The Board of Selectmen unanimously appointed Kenny Payne to serve as the interim police chief in the wake of police chief Orian Gulotta’s death.
Payne, who served as Gulotta’s second in command since 2002, will lead the Police Department until the city holds a special election Oct. 24 to fill the position for the remainder of the term, which expires in 2016.
Payne told The Advocate at Tuesday’s special meeting that he intends to run for police chief during the special election.
“My great friend and mentor has been preparing me for this,” Payne said, referring to Gulotta. “His philosophy of protecting and serving will continue to be my main concern.”
Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi called Gulotta a great man and assured the town’s selectmen that his office will support Payne as it did the former chief.
Payne has been with the Plaquemine Police Department since 1995. His previous ranks in the department have included sergeant, lieutenant and captain before he was officially named assistant chief in August.
Gulotta died at the age of 64 on April 25 due to complications from his six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
Gulotta, who served as the town’s police chief since 2001, was buried last Wednesday.
His younger brother, Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta, got emotional during Tuesday’s meeting as he thanked city officials for honoring his brother’s life during the funeral service.
“This is hard for me to do,” the mayor said, fighting back tears. “My brother and I talked a lot, and we knew one thing: Plaquemine is bigger than us.”
Their father, Joe Gulotta, served on the Board of Selectmen; and their mother, Etta Lee Gulotta, was appointed to the board after his death, city spokesperson Ellie Hebert said.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, Gulotta said he and his brother were one of the last few remaining sibling sets in the state that held the two highest-ranking elected positions in a small town.
Orian Gulotta had worked in law enforcement for approximately 40 years and had plans not to seek re-election in the next citywide elections before his cancer diagnosis, the mayor said.
“All of this really came on really quick,” the mayor said.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.