Port Allen chief candidates look to rebuild

Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 10:05pm

UPDATED: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 5:03pm

The Port Allen Police Department suffered major setbacks when former chief Fred Smith was arrested and convicted on federal bribery charges back in March. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in "Operation Blighted Officials."

The City Council appointed twenty-three year veteran Kenneth Bates as interim chief last November. Now Bates wants to become the permanent chief.

"We've got things going in a forward direction, and I want to continue," said Bates. "I'm asking for the chance to just keep doing the job I'm doing."

Bates faces fellow long-time Port Allen cop, Eric Frank, in a runoff election Saturday.

Frank said he'll bring honesty, hard-work and knowledge to the department, in attempt to lift the spirits of the officers.

"Moral is real low. It was at it's lowest under the last administration," Frank said. "I'd like to bring that back up as well."

Both candidates said they would help bridge the divide between the officers and the community they serve.

"I know there's a trust factor that's probably missing between the community and police department," Frank said. "I'd like to build that back up for one thing."

Bates said as interim chief, he's already working on ways to find funding that would outfit all officers with cameras on their uniform, to document all encounters that cops face.

"Forces officers to be in check, in relation to the public," Bates said. "Because a camera shows both sides of the situation."

Both candidates are long-time friends, having served together for over 20 years. Only 152 votes separated them back in March. Voters will make the final decision Saturday.

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