JENNINGS, LA (KPLC) - He was fired from his job as a Jennings police officer after he turned over criminal evidence to a civilian without permission from his supervisors. Now, Jesse Ewing wants to be sheriff of Jeff Davis Parish.
Ewing admits his history in law enforcement is not only his biggest asset, since it shows he has experience; it could also be his biggest challenge, as he tries to overcome public perception that he was a dirty cop.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to charges of misdemeanor criminal mischief after he turned over tape recordings involving the murders of two of the Jeff Davis 8 victims to a private investigator, without his supervisor's permission. The recordings were of two female inmates in jail who Ewing said claimed to have information about an alleged cover-up of the murders by local law enforcement.
"I say I did the right thing," said Ewing. Although he adds, "I think we should have gone together to the district attorney to talk about it. I didn't hamper the investigation in any way, but a private investigator has the same ethics as a police officer."
The information obtained from the inmates was eventually turned over to the task force, Ewing said.
He was also accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with one of the inmates, a charge that was later thrown out.
He didn't serve any jail time after his reduced 2008 plea. In fact, he got another job as a police officer in Gueydan.
But Jennings is his home and now that Edwards isn't running, Ewing sees his opportunity.
"I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in our parish," said Ewing. "We've been having a lot of high crime occurring in our parish and I think we need different leadership."
Ewing said as sheriff he would focus on preventing crime by putting more deputies on the force.
"The more active people you have out on patrol…the better chances you have of crime not happening," said Ewing.
Ewing also pledges to be more open to the public, especially when it comes to the unsolved murders, which he believes were committed by someone who lives in the parish.
"You don't have to say who you're talking to, [but] let the public know what you are doing," said Ewing.
He also said he couldn't rule out the possibility that a law enforcement official was involved in the murders.
Ewing said it'll be a tough campaign, not only because he will have to answer questions about his past, but also because he'll be facing off against Larry Dupuis, chief deputy and longtime veteran at the Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff's Office. Dupuis is the only other candidate who has announced his plans to run.
Ewing says he will hold several meet-and-greets with voters across the parish in the coming months.
The election is Oct. 22nd. However, the new sheriff won't take office until July 1, 2012.
Dupuis declined a request from KPLC for an interview