Leaders consider arming insurance investigators

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Since the horrific murder-suicide June 7th, the procedure now is to have state police escort investigators any time they leave their building. Other changes are also in the works, which is why leaders said the two agents didn't die in vain.

State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and their teams met behind closed doors. It's the beginning of what both the leaders call an overhaul to the current protocol.

"If members of the insurance division feel they're in a situation where safety is a concern or they even think about that, the decision was made today to make sure we have a state police personnel there," said Col. Edmonson.

Agents have always been advised that, but now it's a known policy to call for backup at anytime.

It comes after Rhett Jeansonne, 44, and Kim Sledge, 39, were murdered back in June while serving a cease and desist order in Ville Platte. Authorities said John Melvin Lavergne, 67, then turned the gun on himself.

It wasn't Lavergne's first run in with the law. State police had arrested him twice before: November 2009 and January 2011.

"Whenever we arrested, as we did this individual on two prior occasions, state police went out there with us," said Donelon.

But in June, the agents were serving a court order, not making an arrest which is why Donelon said there was no police escort. So now, they're considering new measures for their remaining five investigators.

"The question remains do we post-certify, do we arm our investigators?" said Donelon.

It's an idea on the table after Donelon said his investigators are experts in insurance fraud, not in law enforcement.

"There's a process in place to do everything we can to make sure if another officer is in a situation like that, that there are policies and procedures to get them some help before it happens," said Col. Edmonson.

Thursday's meeting was the first step. The process would have to go through the legislature. Plus, in order for agents to carry a weapon, they would have to go through a 10-12 week training class.

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