Duson officials tap Kip Judice to turn around beleaguered PD

by Patrick Flanagan

For the longtime Lafayette Parish Sheriff's deputy, 2014 was a year spent on the campaign trail in an unsuccessful run to become Lafayette’s first new city marshal in decades; but for 2015, it appears he'll be taking on a whole new set of challenges with his selection Tuesday as the new chief of Duson's police force.

Kip Judice
Photo by Travis Gauthier

For Kip Judice, 2014 was a year in which family vacations and fishing trips went out the window in exchange for the campaign trail and a run at becoming Lafayette’s first new city marshal in decades.

Judice lost that race, defeated by a hair in a December runoff against Brian Pope, a longtime deputy with the city marshal’s office. For a brief moment following the defeat, upon hearing news that his longtime boss, Sheriff Mike Neustrom wouldn’t be seeking reelection in the fall, Judice says he thought, briefly, about doing it all again and launching another bid for public office. That thought, however, didn’t last long.

“In 2014, I didn’t take a family vacation, no fishing trips,” Judice tells The Independent. “I was at an event almost every single day from the time I announced [in late-June] until election day. It’s a big task to run for political office in Lafayette. It’s a burden on the family, and if I would have run for sheriff, I’d want to have given it the same level of devotion. I didn’t feel the tank was full ... I still feel tired. We looked at it, we considered it, but almost from day one, it came back to one thing: Do I want to take a vacation with my family this year? In the end I decided to take this opportunity to stand back.”

But that doesn’t mean Judice is jumping at the idea of exchanging his badge for the retired life. “I’ve reached my 30 years with the sheriff’s office, but I’m only 50, I still feel young and feel I have a lot to offer. I just have too much energy to go sit in a rocking chair,” says Judice. “

Instead, he’ll be taking the helm of Duson’s long troubled police force following an appointment approved by the town’s Board of Aldermen Tuesday night.

And based on the department’s history in recent years, Judice will likely have his hands full. Over the last 15 years, Duson’s PD has seen three chiefs ousted over allegations of malfeasance, most recently with the termination of the man Judice was picked to precede, Frank Andrews.

“I’m well aware of Duson’s history with chiefs, but I’m not dwelling on that because I know we’ll do it better,” says Judice. “It’ll be a one foot in front of the other type approach. I’m going to go in there with my history, my standards, and I’ll make them aware that I’m not above the law, I’m not above the policies of that agency and what’s required of the rest of the force. I do that myself, and I’ll ask that of my employees and hopefully I’ll help earn back the public’s trust in the agency and in its administration. I plan on doing some good things in Duson.”

Judice says he's filed his pension paperwork with the sheriff's office and is waiting for the green light before officially taking the helm in Duson, which likely happen in the next week or two.