Opelousas Police Chief Wants Non-Officers To Return Badges
I learned by watching the Andy Griffith Show that the badge any member of law enforcement wears is a special piece of police equipment. That badge, according to Sheriff Andy Taylor, represents trust, training, service, and a desire to make the community a better place.
However, according to Opelousas Police Chief Martin McLendon, there are about 50 people in Acadiana with official police badges from his department that shouldn't have them. He's asking if you're one of those people to please turn the badge or commissioned officer card in.
Besides the obvious opportunity for someone to misuse that kind of power there are also financial and liability concerns for OPD and the City of Opelousas. A recent audit showed invoices for over $5,000 in badges. That's the financial concern.
The liability concern is that someone might use the badge or card to act as if they have the authority of a commissioned and trained law enforcement professional. Since those badges and commission cards don't come with that kind of power, the person using them could be at risk of being arrested for impersonating a police officer.
Chief McLendon says the badges were handed out over a four year period and he is asking anyone who was issued one to please turn it in. In the meantime, if you are approached by an individual claiming to be a part of the Opelousas Police Department you can call the OPD for verification.