St. Martin

Jun 10, 2014 6:43 PM by Akeam Ashford

St. Martinville Interim-Police Chief Talks Future of Department

The St. Martinville Police Department is undergoing leadership changes after its long-time police chief abruptly stepped down.

According to documents obtained by KATC's investigative team, in 2013, then Police Chief Paula Smith, was asked to provide the mayor and city council with a monthly report showing the number of citations and type issued within the city. Documents showed Smith handed over some reports from June 2013 to November, but failed to continue turning in the reports for six months.

Last month, the city council unanimously voted to place Smith on leave without pay for two days. Smith stepped down two weeks later, saying she would retire.

In the meantime, Calder Hebert has taken over the department as the interim-police chief.

"I'm happy for her in her retirement, but now we're starting anew with the St. Martinville Police Department," said Hebert, who brings more than 20 years of military and federal law enforcement experience to the position.

"I'm excited about my new position, and I'm embracing it. I want to ride this out to let the people know they did make the right decision," Hebert said. "In the next couple of months, they will see a big change in their police department."

Hebert said he would like to see the department add more officer training days, new uniforms and higher pay for officers. He said he is losing potential officers to higher paying jobs.

"We're having to compete with some very good salaries out there in the private sector," Hebert said.

The interim chief said the goal is to make St. Martinville citizens comfortable with their police department once again.

"They're safe right now, because we are still doing our job, but I want more presence on the street," Hebert said. "My main goal is to get us up to strength and I want to be more involved with the community."

Hebert said the city council can't officially make him the permanent chief until Smith retires, or uses all her vacation and sick leave.

Documents show Smith has accumulated 14 months of sick and vacation leave. According to the city's attorney, Smith can use all of her leave or have it paid out. When Smith decides what she wants to do, the city will pay her $55,520.

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