METAIRIE – Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand is stepping down.
Normand announced at an 11 a.m. press conference that he will be retiring at the end of August.
“Today is an incredible day for me, but it is a little bittersweet,” he said. “I announce that I will be retiring on August 31 of this year.”
Normand said that he has served in public service for 40 years, with 37 of those years spent at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
After coming to the decision that he would not run for reelection, Normand said he eventually realized it was time to go now, when he said he could go out on top.
“Good leaders know when it’s time to leave,” Normand said.
A close ally of longtime sheriff Harry Lee, Normand took over as the top cop in Jefferson Parish after Lee’s death in 2007.
Joseph Lopinto will take over as sheriff on August 31, according to Normand, who said he has been grooming Lopinto for the job in much the same way that Lee prepared him to take the reigns in Jefferson Parish.
Lopinto will serve as interim sheriff until the Jefferson Parish Council calls for a special election. Normand made clear his choice to have Lopinto, his chief of operations, take over when he steps down. Lopinto said he plans to run for sheriff.
Normand will take over for WWL Talk Radio host Garland Robinette in July, prompting a joke with the assembled press that he will be “crossing over to the dark side.”
September 11 will be Normand’s first day at WWL. He will be on the air from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“There are a lot of my skills that I’m going to have to hone in a very short amount of time,” Normand said.
Choking up when asked what he will miss about his job as sheriff, Normand said he will miss reading daily reports that show how his officers approach cases large and small, as well as the letters of gratitude from members of the community that he gets on a regular basis.
“I believe that I am leaving this place in better shape than I inherited it,” Normand said. “That has always been my goal, as simplistic as it seems.”
Normand said his retirement has “absolutely nothing to do” with the indictment of former Jefferson Parish chief deputy Craig Taffaro, who was indicted earlier this month for tax evasion stemming from a business he started with Normand.
“It’s a coincidence, at best,” Normand said of the timing.