St. Martinville’s almost two-year stand-in police chief has been hired to permanently fill the position.
The St. Martinville City Council appointed Calder “Pop” Hebert to the post in a 3-1 vote during its Monday night meeting.
Hebert, 48, has been working in the position since former Police Chief Paula Smith retired in May 2014.
“Basically, last night was a formality,” Hebert said on Tuesday. “I took it (the job) with a permanent mindset of being here for a long period of time and not just temporarily.
Because Smith accrued unpaid leave during her tenure, the city could not officially hire a replacement until that time expired because of civil service rules that allow employees to accrue unused time off and carry it over each year.
Mayor Pro Tempore Mike Fuselier, who represents District 1, said the council could have hired Hebert sooner, but “everything was going so smoothly” that there had been no urgent need to make a move.
Council members Craig Prosper, District 2, and Dennis Williams, District 3, also voted in favor of Hebert’s hiring.
Council member Debra Landry, District 4, cast the sole opposing vote, instead making a motion to appoint St. Martinville police Officer Lance Laviolette to the position. No one on the council seconded her motion.
Landry declined to comment Tuesday as to why she voted against Hebert’s hiring.
Hebert passed the police chief exam in December. Since working as the chief on an interim basis, he said, he’s improved the look of the department with new uniforms and put in place a chain-of-command structure for the Police Department.
Instead of having one assistant chief, the department now has a deputy chief of investigations, a deputy chief of patrol and shift supervisors, he said.
“It’s good for everyone, for the rookie to the veteran,” Hebert said.
Fuselier said Hebert’s tenure so far has proven positive for the city.
“The last two years have brought stability to the force, and we hoped that would happen when we brought Chief Hebert in,” Fuselier said. “He brought discipline to the force and structure, which I think was needed.”
Hebert, a St. Martinville native, enlisted with the U.S. Army National Guard and later served in the U.S. Air Force, spending eight of his 11 years of service on active duty.
He retired in 2006 from the U.S. Marshals Service, where he worked in Little Rock, Arkansas, Lake Charles and Lafayette, and then worked in St. Martin Parish government as a project manager with the Planning and Zoning Department.
He will continue leading a force of 16 officers, four reserve officers — two of whom are new hires installed at Monday’s council meeting — and four dispatchers.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.