BROUSSARD, La. (AP) — A police chief in Louisiana is retiring after more than 20 years at the helm of his force amid accusations of sexual harassment made by former officers.
Brannon Decou — Broussard Police Department’s longest-serving elected leader — sent his resignation letter to Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Mayor Ray Bourque on Monday, news outlets reported.
In a statement addressed to city leaders, police and citizens, Decou said his last day as chief will be June 1 “to help provide for an orderly transition.”
“I will take some much needed rest, and allow someone else to take over with a fresh set of ideas that hopefully will continue the forward momentum that our city deserves,” he wrote.
The letter didn’t address the harassment allegations.
Decou took a leave of absence April 27 while the city investigated “an envelope of text messages between the chief and a former deputy” that officials said they had received.
Three former officers described the work environment at the Broussard Police Department to The Acadiana Advocate in an article published earlier that month. They said unwanted sexual advances were the norm, and those who spoke up faced retaliation.
Taylor Jones, 28, shared screenshots with the newspaper of inappropriate messages he said were from Decou. The messages included a request for the then-employee to “send scandalous pics.”
Bourque said in a statement that he will work with the city council to determine an interim police chief. Decou’s term was through the end of 2022, and city residents will elect a new chief in an upcoming election.
“I have been in constant communication with our police commanders, and I want our City to rest assured that the Broussard Police Department has been running smoothly, actively policing our community, and will continue to do so,” Bourque said.