Top cop selection marks new day

The Terrebonne Parish Council’s unanimous shifting of Todd Duplantis from interim to full chief of the Houma Police Department spoke well not only for the panel of decision makers, but also the sole candidate who has not simply marked time since being placed in that role on June 3, 2008, but made the most of that time for the betterment of his hometown.

Duplantis joined the Houma Police Department in 1985 as a patrolman. He was appointed to the top position on a temporary basis 23 years later and took the job under a firestorm of controversy.

During the past 34 months, Duplantis has accomplished goals that he set for himself and the department. Under his direction, neighborhood watch groups increased from two to 19, he developed the city’s first hurricane evacuation plan, saw a dramatic reduction in violent crime and implemented a popular “walk and talk” program in which police, led by his example, developed greater personal interaction with the public.

After the Houma Police Department had been strongly criticized for mismanagement and a lack of response to public needs, Duplantis was able to outshine the critics and bring on an air of professionalism to gain renewed respect for those that wear a badge locally.

While serving on an interim basis, Duplantis, the police department and the parish were faced with allegations and five lawsuits that failed to advance much beyond court filing because of their lack of merit.

Duplantis said that when he took the job he was faced with deciding between two ways of filling the interim position. “The easy decision was to leave things as status quo. The hard decision was to make changes,” he said.

Duplantis opted for making changes. “Within the past three years I’ve learned that integrity, fairness, respect, justice and compassion for all are just a few core values necessary to be a successful police chief,” he said.

Crime still exists in Houma, just as it does in any community of any size. Yet, under Duplantis’ leadership major steps forward have been taken because of fundamental police work.

The Houma Police Department has secured a list of improvements and accomplishments during the past three years. We at the Tri-Parish Times believe that Todd Duplantis has earned his stripes and deserves to wear the stars as chief of police.