LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - In Beauregard, five candidates are vying to become the parish’s new chief law enforcement officer. Fifty-two-year-old John Gott used to be DeRidder police chief. He wants better use of resources.
“I’m going to pool people together here with our communications networks here in Beauregard Parish to combine our E911 systems along with our dispatch personnel that we have with the police department and sheriff’s department, to make one central dispatch center so that everybody’s on the same page,” said Gott.
All candidates are career law enforcement, except 19-year-old Jose Chapa who considers his lack of law enforcement experience a plus.
“Me, having no law enforcement experience or coming from a law enforcement agency creates a good intense environment. And it has a strong ground that I can stand on so when it comes to following protocol, I won’t have feelings and emotions or be tied to deputies the way these other four men will, so when it comes to making right decision I don’t have to think about being friends with my employees,” said Chapa.
Twenty-seven-year law enforcement veteran Mark Herford, who is 47, wants substations on the east and west sides of the parish which he says can be done with existing revenues.
“I think the substations are going to make a world of difference for the citizens of the parish because by having those substations manned by both uniformed deputies and detectives, the first thing it's going to do they'll notice right away is decrease their response times. When they get a call to one part of the parish having a substation there is going to make it much, much faster,” he said.
And Fifty-two-year-old Jim Jacobsen, who started as a deputy and then spent 25 years with Louisiana State Police, says citizens want proactive law enforcement.
“They’re frustrated about having to go to work in the mornings and having to earn their tax dollar, and they come home and something’s been stolen off their porch while they were gone. Or they can’t get a moment’s rest at home because there’s some drug activity down at the end of their street and they feel law enforcement is not being proactive,” he said.
Candidate Rob Moreland canceled his on-camera interview due to work obligations but says he has 33 years of diverse law enforcement experience include training, advising, operations and management. He says he'll professionalize the department and restructure patrol for faster response time.
All the candidates seem to be in favor of establishing closer ties with citizens and neighborhoods and more community policing. They all agree the safety and security of the public is their highest priority.
A candidate needs 50 percent plus one vote to win on Saturday.
If no one gets that, the top two candidates will face off in a runoff on November 16.