St. Tammany Parish Sheriff-elect Randy Smith has notified 15 deputies they will lose their jobs after July 1, when Smith takes over from outgoing Sheriff Jack Strain.
The moves — not uncommon when an office changes hands — came just after Smith installed former Covington Police Chief Richard Palmisano in the office to oversee human resources. Palmisano personally let many of the 15 know they would not be kept on.
Several of those let go had been in the news in recent years for various, mostly negative reasons: Bobby Juge was discovered sending emails with racist jokes; Sean Beavers was pulled over on suspicion of DWI but not arrested, prompting internal investigations by the Sheriff’s Office and the State Police; and two deputies, both members of the Hanson family, came under scrutiny after accusations that a relative of theirs was getting special treatment as an inmate at the parish jail.
Also let go was Brian Trainor, who served as Strain’s chief deputy and made an unsuccessful bid for district attorney in 2014.
Smith said through a spokesman that these were the only personnel decisions he would make before his July 1 swearing-in. The Sheriff’s Office has about 700 deputies.
Other deputies let go include Bryan Moore, a captain in the Operations Division who helped lead the Sheriff’s Office response to the flooding in March, plus Sterling Hebert, James Franklin, Cliff Keen, Cathy Porter, Joy Elliot, Mike Core and Linda Husser. They have worked in several divisions, including administration, investigations, corrections, maintenance, training and patrol.
Smith rode a surge of anti-incumbent sentiment in St. Tammany to his November victory, which came about a year after Warren Montgomery, another candidate viewed as an outsider, beat Trainor in the race for district attorney.
Smith has promised a full fiscal review of the agency, even as Strain touts its financial health. He also wants to refocus efforts on community policing and rebrand the agency with new uniforms, decals and logos.
He has vowed to overhaul management of the parish jail and bring the lone remaining work-release program back in-house.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.