Interviews for applicants seeking to serve as Lafayette's next permanent police chief have begun and six candidates have been certified in the process.

Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux has employed help from District Attorney Keith Stutes, Sheriff Mark Garber and Interim Police Chief Reggie Thomas in the interviewing proces.

The five candidates who were certified after required testing by the Louisiana State Examiner’s Office and background/reference checks included:

    • Toby Aguillard, Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Offic
    • James Benoit, Louisiana State Police
    • Forrest Blanton, Lafayette Police Department
    • Vaughn Burris, Lafayette Police Department
    • Joey Sturm, UL Police Department
    • Sammy Wyatt,  LSU Office of Internal Audit

All six candidates met with the panel Monday and Tuesday. Robideuax said he will determine who progresses to the next stage of interviews.

“Based on the feedback from those interviews, I will determine which of the remaining candidates to grant final interviews,” stated Robideaux. It has not yet been determined which of the candidates will receive final interviews.

One of the six finalists--Sammy Wyatt, of the LSU Office of Internal Audit--told KLFY he dropped out of the race and left his interview Monday morning after only 15 minutes because  he called the hiring process "unethical."

Interim Chief Reginald Thomas has served as Lafayette's top police official for the past 10 months, since former Chief Jim Craft left the post to heed Gov. John Bel Edwards' call to serve as executive director of the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement.