SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - Police Chief Chris Abrahams was suspended with pay Friday and demoted to the rank of captain according to Mayor Chris Duncan. Duncan said Monday the suspension and demotion stemmed from an investigation into allegations that Abrahams violated civil service policy regarding a promotion within the department.
Duncan said Monday that Abrahams was suspended for 15 days. The investigation went on for more than two months. In the meantime Sulphur Assistant Chief of Police Billy Craddock will now lead the department, Duncan said.
When asked why the demotion to captain, which is several ranks under chief, Duncan said, "As the appointing authority, the worst case scenario I could have terminated him. We felt it was more justified for the position and the violation. We also based the decision upon some Supreme Court rulings in the past."
The decision was made late Friday. Sulphur City Council members found out by email at 4:13.
"I was kind of surprised. I immediately sent a request for the investigation and its findings, but have yet to receive a response. I still want to know what were the reasons and what happened to cause these actions to come against the police chief," said Stuart Moss, Sulphur City Councilman.
Moss also raises the question of transparency in the mayor's office, something Duncan promised on the campaign trail.
"I enjoy working with the mayor. But at 4:13 in the afternoon on a Friday - we should have been given previous knowledge. I don't think that was a decision made spur of the moment. I think it happened and we just found out spur of the moment," said Moss.
"The investigation may be complete, but you can't release too much information because you have an appellate hearing coming up. So that is being taken under legal advice to what we can release to city council at this time," said Duncan.
Abrahams said he plans to appeal the Mayor's decision with the civil service board. The civil service board can uphold the mayor's decision, make it more severe or completely dismiss it. If either side disagrees with the decision they can take it to the 14th Judicial Court for a final ruling.
Abrahams has worked for the Sulphur Police Dept. for around 27 years and in law enforcement for more than 30 years. He was promoted to chief in 2007 after George Mullican retired. Prior to the appointment, Abrahams held the rank of Major.