After six-plus years, Mandeville Police Chief Rick Richard to retire July 1 _lowres

Former Mandeville Police Chief Rick Richard

Mandeville Police Chief Rick Richard, who was hired in 2010 after the town’s mayor and police chief both left office under a cloud, announced Monday he will retire July 1.

Richard was appointed by interim Mayor Bubby Lyons after the post had been vacant for more than a year. Richard resigned from the FBI, where he had worked for 25 years, to take the appointed position.

This time, he said, he is beginning a “true retirement,” ending a 40-year law enforcement career that began with the Louisiana State Police. He will be 61 next month.

“I was not asked to leave, but the time has come. I’m in a fortunate position financially and healthwise, and I have some grandchildren in south Florida I never get to see,” he said.

Mayor Donald Villere, who retained Richard after he took office in 2011, said he accepted Richard’s resignation reluctantly.

“He entered the position at a controversial time and moved the department ahead to positive change,” Villere said.

He praised Richard for implementing reforms suggested in an outside review of the department conducted by Frank Tridico, a former deputy superintendent with the State Police.

Richard restructured the department, beginning a full-time traffic division and increasing street patrols, Villere said. He also upgraded the department’s computer software and made other technological improvements.

“Rick’s experience and contacts gave Mandeville police greater access to all law enforcement agencies and sustained our positive image statewide,” Villere said.

Tom Buell, who was chief before Richard, resigned after it was reported that money raised by the department for Christmas presents for needy children was spent instead on city officials, according to news coverage at the time by The Times-Picayune. Questions also were raised about how traffic stops involving then-Mayor Eddie Price had been handled.

Price, whose political plummet began when he plowed through a toll booth gate on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, fought to appoint a new chief, over the objections of the City Council, according to Times-Picayune accounts. Price resigned in 2009 and pleaded guilty in federal court the next year to income tax evasion and corruption.

Lyons was appointed interim mayor until Villere was elected to serve out the remainder of Price’s term.

Villere said he plans to invite all interested parties to submit résumés for the job. Since that will take some time, he said, an interim chief will be named from within the department.

One name already has come up as a potential candidate for the job: former federal agent Scott Illing, who ran unsuccessfully for St. Tammany Parish sheriff last year.

Illing said he had previously offered Villere his assistance as a consultant in general law enforcement management.

“I have not been approached to replace Chief Richard but will certainly serve the community in any capacity,” he said, calling Richard a colleague who served Mandeville well.

Villere said no one has the inside track. “We are going to try to make sure we have an open mind, and we want somebody who is going to be here beyond four years,” he said. “We are going to take a lot of care in making that selection.

Staff writer Faimon A. Roberts III contributed to this report.

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