Voters in Opelousas have a better idea of who is on the ballot in the Fall. The St. Landry Democrats along with two sororities sponsored a forum for Democratic candidates in the city. In the race of Police chief, its only democrats on the ballot, so voters had a chance to hear from every candidate in that race.
There were more than 100 people in the Opelousas Civic Center on Wednesday night. In the crowd sat the four candidates for Chief of Police. Paul Gennuso, Greg LeBlanc, Donald Thompson and Martin McLendon..
Paul Gennuso worked for the department for more than 30 years and was the Assistant Chief before retiring. He believes change is necessary.
“You’ve got all chiefs. You have all chiefs and no Indians. You can’t structure an organization with that many bosses. There is no training, equipment is deplorable and there no leadership and respect,” Gennuso said.
Greg Leblanc has been with the department for more than 20 years and he says he is ready for a leadership role.
“I think the most important thing about being a police officer or police chief is commitment. I think that you have to be committed and commitment is the key word. I can be competent and not committed. But, once I am committed to something I am in for the long haul,” Leblanc said.
Martin McLendon says officers aren’t getting paid enough and that would be among the first things he tried to change once in office.
“I will fight hard to increase the entry level of pay. Our police officers are not making very much money. I am going to go to the mayor and the council and ask them to raise the levels so we can compete with neighboring cities and keep our officers in this city,” McLendeon said
Current Police Chief, Donald Thompson, said he is the guy to continue doing the job.
“I want to continue to serve this community because I am passionate about law enforcement and making it safe for my community as well as my children. I want to pave that pathway for them, especially those that are leaving the community. I want to be their icon to have them to come back,” Thompson said.
Voters will have their say on November 6th.