SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - Mel Estess has been appointed provisional Sulphur Police Chief by Mayor Chris Duncan. The temporary appointment was approved by the Sulphur City Council for up to 180 days on Monday.
This comes a week after Duncan suspended Chief Chris Abrahams for 15 days with pay and demoted him to captain after an investigation revealed alleged violations of civil service law pertaining to promotions within the department. Abrahams is expected to appeal the decision.
The provisional appointment is effective Saturday May 28th. Currently Assistant Chief Billy Craddock is assuming the duties of police chief during Abrahams' suspension. Council members asked Duncan why he selected Estess for the temporary promotion and not Craddock. Duncan said he wanted someone neutral in the position that had no intention of applying for the permanent job. Craddock is expected to take the civil service test to apply for chief. Duncan said he didn't want to promote Craddock and it appear as though he had an advantage over other potential candidates.
"Under the circumstances I think we need somebody like that in the position until the situation is ironed out," said Councilman Mike Koonce.
The council was urged to act quickly. Despite the unanimous approval, Council President Dru Ellender feels like the whole process has been rushed.
"One of my biggest concerns is that we have a lot of questions that have not been answered. This took me by surprise. I really mainly want to make sure we are doing everything correctly while due process plays out," said Ellender.
Estess has been with the Sulphur Police Department since 1990 and said he is honored with the council's approval.
"I have a heart for service and I don't take this honor lightly. I respect the council and the mayor for giving me this opportunity to serve them as chief even if it is temporary. I know that I'm going to be at the top of the ladder, but in just a matter of months I'll be at the bottom holding it for someone else. I'm willing to do that," said Estess.
Meanwhile Sulphur Police Chief Chris Abrahams is expected to file an appeal before the Sulphur Civil Service Board Tuesday evening. The group meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month. They won't discuss the issue until next month's meeting on June 28th.