Abercrombie, Bridges spar over Homeland Security oversight

By Luke Britt/Editor
The angst over Union Parish Police Jury President Brenda Abercrombie’s oversight of the parish Office of Homeland Security continued Thursday when she announced that the current director of that office would go from part-time to fulltime status Jan. 1.
At least three jurors took issue with the fact that Abercrombie approved the change without discussing it with the rest of the jury.
“How come we haven’t discussed that as a jury, prior to this?” Juror Ben Bridges asked.
Abercrombie did not answer Bridge’s question, but argued that the parish needs a fulltime Homeland Security director.
“I think our parish is the only parish that the jury has a problem taking care of our Homeland Security director,” she said.
It is the second time in less than a month that jurors have accused Abercrombie of circumventing the jury. In early December Abercrombie approved a $57,373.94 purchase of a Ford F-250 crew cab for Homeland Security contrary to the wishes of the jury’s equipment committee.
“He reports to no one on this jury, except the president,” Bridges said. “We don’t know what he does or where he does anything. You’ve already signed the (purchase order) to buy the truck, and the jury hasn’t discussed that. The jury hasn’t discussed hiring him fulltime, and yet, it’s already done.”
The parish Office of Homeland Security is funded with money allocated by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP). State law dictates that the director of the parish office report to the Police Jury president. It does not require the full jury to approve decisions related to that office.
According to Abercrombie, the cost of the truck and the increased salary for the fulltime position will be covered by GOHSEP. However, in response to questions from Bridges, Abercrombie acknowledged that the parish will have to cover the cost of the benefits available to the director as a fulltime employee, which she said would cost the parish about $1,000 a month.
The Gazette contacted GOHSEP to confirm that the state office will fully fund the director’s salary but had not received a response as of press time.

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