Police chief forum set: Bethlehem Church to host event

Published 5:51 am Saturday, October 22, 2016

A collection of citizens is hosting an informal forum for the five candidates for Bogalusa police chief Monday evening.

Malcolm Moses said he hopes the forum will give citizens a chance to get to know the next police chief, and it will also give the would-be chiefs an opportunity to explain their visions for the future.

“What is it the candidates plan to bring to the community and the operations of the police department in general,” Moses said. “What is your agenda? Do you have a plan? Do you have a goal? Does it include the community?”

Moses described the group as “a group of citizens who are for the betterment of Bogalusa,” and he said some within that group have concerns about some of the candidates for chief and he hopes to address those concerns Monday.

“Within the pools that is in the running to be selected for the chief and the assistant chief of police, there have been some records retrieved that show they have some moral issues in terms of professionalism,” he said. “If that type of character is displayed prior to them being given that sort of authority, then that could be detrimental and bad for the community at large.”

Moses declined to offer any specifics about what “moral issues” he might be referring to.

“If you come Monday, you’ll see,” he said.

However, he did say the concerns are well-known in his community.

“There are actual records and information that has already been brought to the table that doesn’t sit well with the people of the community,” he said.

“And being as that is the case, we’d rather someone come to disprove it or give us some type of explanation to the people about what may have happened, prior to moving forward.”

Moses said Fate Ferrell and Marvin Austin have formally invited all five candidates, although he also said no one will be forced to come, so it is not clear how many will show up.

The group has also invited Mayor Wendy Perrette, but she said she would not attend the meeting because of other obligations. Also, she said the meeting seemed too secretive for her liking.

“It was more of a demand, and that’s not the way its been handled in the past,” she said. “When I asked about who organized this, it was a mystery, and so it didn’t seem like something I should attend.”

Perrette also said accusing people of criminal or borderline criminal activity in a public forum might not be all that productive.

“I’m not going to attend a free-for-all,” she said.

However, Perrette said she has assembled a citizen board that will review the candidates for chief and make a recommendation. Under the city’s charter, the mayor selects a chief and the council approves it, but Perrette said she would like to follow tradition and have the chief come at the recommendation of a seven-person board.

No date has been set yet for that board to meet, but Perrette said she hopes the new chief will be tapped sometime in November.

Of the candidates, three work for the city at present, four live in the area and one is from the outside the city.

Moses said the Monday community meeting is open to everyone, and he hopes for a good turnout. The meeting will be held at the Bethlehem Baptist Church at 837 E. Seventh St. at 6 p.m.