Featured Photograph: Opelousas police chief Graig LeBlanc with top administrators Mark Guidry and Craig Thomas. (Photograph by Bobby Ardoin)
It resembled a parade review moment for the Opelousas Police Department Wednesday night as Chief Graig LeBlanc announced a series of promotions, retirements and resignations during the end of a monthly Board of Aldermen meeting.
With a number of officers attired in dress uniforms, LeBlanc told the Board that veteran officers Mark Guidry and Craig Thomas will preside as the top administrative officers in the department.
Guidry replaces Scott Aymond as assistant chief, while Thomas is now the department major.
The new positions assigned to Guidry and Thomas are probational and became effective Sept. 3.
Aymond retired after 35 years with the department. The Board approved a $92,125 payment for the 1,613 hours of unused annual leave and 5.5 hours of compensatory leave for Aymond, who did not attend the ceremony.
The Board also approved the retirement for records clerk Carolyn Thomas-Sibley. A retirement package for Thomas-Sibley includes a payment of $13,237 for her 602 hours of unused annual leave.
LeBlanc also announced the appointment of Paul B. Cortez to substitute police lieutenant for at least 30 days. LeBlanc replaces lieutenant Loretta Etienne, who is on extended sick leave.
Cortez previously ranked as a permanent police sergeant.
Also receiving promotions were Jeremy Bias, Derek Garrick and Michael Hidalgo. The three officers are now ranked as probational police sergeants.
Discussing The Promotions
LeBlanc told the Board that Guidry is the reason he became a police officer.
“I know that everything about (Guidry) is why I decided to become a police officer,” LeBlanc said.
The ability of Thomas to lead officers was noted by LeBlanc.
Thomas, LeBlanc said, has been like a mentor during the years that LeBlanc has been active in law enforcement.
Garrick, said LeBlanc, has taken over as a nighttime officer.
“I know that a lot of things have changed in this city since (Garrick) has been in charge of that area of enforcement. I think we are beginning to see the results of his patrols with our crime prevention units,” said LeBlanc.
Hidalgo has considerable experience as both a St. Landry Parish deputy and city police officer, LeBlanc said.
“I know that (Hidalgo) has really made a difference using that experience. I also know that some of the techniques for investigating crimes are something that we are using right now,” said LeBlanc.