Chief of lawless town: 'There's nothing we can do'

Sorrento Police cars locked behind a fence
Sorrento Police cars locked behind a fence
61 Junk Street store co-owner, Vickie Dupuy
61 Junk Street store co-owner, Vickie Dupuy

SORRENTO, LA (WAFB) - Leaders in the Town of Sorrento are scrambling to find police protection. The department's insurance policy ended at midnight. The force cannot operate without coverage

On Tuesday, the patrol cars were parked behind a fence, officers turned in their gear, tickets and a stack of complaints sat in a quiet office. The police scanners were turned on, but Police Chief Earl Theriot said he and his staff of two cannot respond.

"There's nothing we can do. We're not insured. We don't have insurance on our vehicles, nothing. The only think we can do is tell them, dial 911," Theriot said.

The police department's insurance policy with Risk Management expired at midnight. The company cited six years worth of police claims totaling $286,114.08 as a reason for dropping the department.

"To me it's normal in most cases. I mean, there's nothing out of the ordinary. When you're in police business you're going to have lawsuits," Theriot explained.

Because the town council failed to decide on backup plan to provide police protection to residents, there are no patrol officers working in the town limits.

Business owner, Vickie Dupuy, said it's left her feeling uneasy.

"If something would happen, it could take a while before we could get help and I don't like that feeling," Dupuy said.

Dupuy said Sorrento police officers have answered her call for help more than once. She and some locals said having a police force in town gives them an extra sense of security.

"I would like to see them stay because I think they could do a better job than what they are doing right now," Carnell Paul said.

Chief Theriot said all five of his officers have resigned, two of them have found jobs with other departments. He said he is soliciting outside help to assist him in rebuilding the force.

"We will restart, revamp. That's our goal right now, to restructure the police department," Theriot said.

But first the council must vote to accept a new insurance carrier, something they've put on the back burner before.

"They put the horse before the cart. They tried to make a vote on hiring the sheriff's office without considering the insurance company's quote first," Theriot said.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley has agreed to provide protection through the end of the year but the town council must first accept his proposal.

The town is also considering a quote from Beard Insurance, a subsidiary of Prime Insurance.

The council is expected to vote on a plan at tonight's regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m.

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