Lafayette Police Chief Toby Aguillard on Monday resigned and said he will not fight for his job in court as he had pledged to do last month when incoming Mayor-President Josh Guillory unexpectedly asked him to resign or be fired.
Former chief administrative officer Lowell Duhon, who was appointed interim utilities director in October to lead an internal investigation under Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, will remain interim LUS director until a replacement is named, and several of Robideaux's department heads are being retained, Guillory's chief communications officer, Cydra Wingerter, said Monday.
Aguillard announced his resignation Monday in a statement as Guillory took part in a public swearing-in ceremony at 3 p.m. Guillory said the resignation actually came shortly after noon, which is when he officially took the oath of office. The home rule charter requires the change of leadership to occur at noon. Aguillard's resignation was effective immediately.
Guillory previously said he would release at a later date the reason he asked Aguillard to resign or be fired. Asked after the swearing-in ceremony Monday, Guillory said, "We will continue to release information as the situation develops." He said he wants solid leadership in the department's chain of command.
Without explanation, Guillory announced on Dec. 12 that he would not keep Aguillard in his administration and asked for his resignation. Guillory insisted Monday he had not fired Aguillard, that the police chief had resigned.
The request for his resignation shocked Aguillard, who claimed Guillory’s decision was political and illegal under state civil service rules.
Aguillard initially said he would appeal his firing to the civil service board and take Guillory to court, but he said in his statement Monday that he hoped the resignation will “allow the department and the community to move forward.”
“Lafayette’s history has proven that a legal battle between the chief of police and a newly elected mayor causes disruption and stress among the officers, the parties involved, and the citizens. I have no desire to be a part of such turmoil,” Aguillard’s statement reads.
Aguillard served as chief for three years under Robideaux, who did not seek a second term.
Police spokeswoman Bridgette Dugas said Lt. Scott Morgan, who has nearly 25 years with the department, will serve as interim chief until the position is filled permanently. Dugas said she expects Guillory to provide details about the search process this week.
Guillory said Monday he will conduct a national search for a new police chief but hoped to promote from within.
Directors who have retained their jobs under Guillory's administration include Lorrie Toups, chief financial officer; Robert Benoit, fire chief; Gerald Boudreaux, parks and recreation director; and Danielle Breaux, planning and development director.
Interim positions are being filled by Duhon, interim director of Lafayette Utilities System; Kayla Miles, interim director of LUS fiber; and Terry Cordick, interim public works director.
Guillory previously announced the hiring of Elizabeth Guidry as CAO and Hollis Conway as community development director.
Guillory is asking the city and parish councils to approve the appointment of Gregory Logan as city-parish attorney. Wingerter said outgoing City-Parish Attorney Paul Escott and Assistant City-Parish Attorney Mike Hebert will be retained as assistant city-parish attorneys.