Lafayette City-Parish Mayor-President-elect Josh Guillory, left, and Lafayette Police Chief Toby Aguillard attend a National Transportation Safety Board press conference to give updates on the investigation into the Dec. 29 plane crash on Monday, December 31, 2019, in Lafayette, La.

Lafayette Police Chief Toby Aguillard was paid a $70,000 settlement Monday to resign.

In December, Mayor-President-elect Josh Guillory stunned Aguillard when he asked the chief to resign or be fired. Aguillard said he would fight the move.

But on Monday, when Guillory was sworn in as mayor-president, Aguillard tendered his resignation.

Guillory said Thursday that Aguillard's poor relationship with Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber played a role in his decision to replace him. Guillory said his decision wasn't personal or political, but he felt the department needed better leadership.

Aguillard was appointed police chief in 2016 by former Mayor-President Joel Robideaux and saw the department through undoubtedly the most difficult time most on the force will endure when in October 2017 Cpl. Michael Middlebrook was shot and killed in the line of duty.

The settlement agreement, requested by The Acadiana Advocate on Tuesday, was released Friday afternoon. Aguillard and city officials acknowledge in the agreement "the existence of a factual dispute" over whether Guillory had cause to fire the chief.

"Lafayette contends that it is prepared to commence an investigation regarding matters that constitute cause for my removal as chief of police," the settlement reads. "I dispute such matters and dispute that there is cause for my removal as Lafayette chief of police and I am prepared to contest and litigate such matters vigorously."

But to avoid the "expense, delay and uncertainty" that comes with a lawsuit, and to compromise, the two entered the settlement agreement. In return, Aguillard agreed to treat his departure as a voluntary separation and agreed to state only that he resigned.

The $70,000 settlement was paid out of the city's risk management budget for the settlement of lawsuits and such, Cydra Wingerter, communications specialist, said.

From the administration's perspective, she said, it would cost the city more than $70,000 to fight Aguillard's dismissal in court.

Aguillard is the only of several directors not retained by Guillory who received a settlement, Wingerter said. 

Guillory appointed Lt. Scott Morgan, a 25-year veteran of the Lafayette Police Department, to serve as interim police chief until a permanent replacement is named. Morgan said he will not apply for the job.

Aguillard was paid $132,015 a year.

Wingerter said Friday evening Guillory has not begun the process required to hire a permanent replacement.

The city has 60 days from Aguillard's Monday resignation to start the search for a permanent police chief, Lt. Bridgette Dugas, LPD public information officer, said Thursday. She and Morgan said they expect the process to take less than a year. When Aguillard was hired, the process took about 9 months, Dugas said.

The Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service Board has to approve the posting of notices advertising the job opening and determine the dates for the postings, Allison Schexnayder with the civil service office said. The board then approves the applications received and determines who is eligible to take the civil service test for the chief's job. Someone with the Office of State Examiner in Baton Rouge will administer the test. Schexnayder said her office will receive the scores and the civil service board approves the scores. Those who pass the test are eligible to be interviewed by the mayor-president.

The earliest the board could take the first step in launching the application process is at its Feb. 12 meeting, Schexnayder said.

Anyone who wants to apply for the Lafayette police chief position must have at least a bachelor's degree or, if lacking a bachelor's degree, must have been employed with the LPD as a commissioned officer prior to Oct. 18, 1979, without discontinuation of employment, according to Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service rules.

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