NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) — The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office currently operates out of four different buildings, but a decision made Wednesday night will soon put them all under one roof.
The 24,000 sq. ft. building, located at 4701 West Admiral Doyle Drive, is in one of the highest elevations in the parish, near the Acadiana Regional Airport. The council agreed to pay $1.6M for the former spot of Carbo Ceramics.
Sheriff Tommy Romero has been working on making Iberia Parish law enforcement more efficient since he came into office in 2020. One of the biggest hurdles to that is the department’s current layout. They occupy four buildings, some of which are 10 or 15 minutes apart.
“If somebody needs to come in and do a report, they go to patrol, they generate a complaint number, but it requires a detective, right now they would have to drive to the port, or my guys would have to drive to a different location, what have you. It’s just more efficient for us to be under one roof,” Sheriff Romero explained.
In addition to efficiency, deputies will actually have 25% more space. Their four operations in the courthouse, behind the courthouse, at the Port of Iberia, and at the jail have 18,000 sq. ft combined. As Sheriff Romero put it, “We’re kind of running out of space.”
With the move, deputies will be able to free up their footprint in the bottom floor of the courthouse as well as move patrol and investigations divisions out of their current buildings which may put the parish government in a position where they can use them for additional things or sell them saving taxpayers money.
“Because we’re not spending dollars at different locations for the same services,” Iberia Parish President Larry Richard stated. “You’re not paying utilities in four different locations. You’re not paying for your internet service at four different locations, and the list goes on and on and on.”
The new location will be extremely important in the event of hurricane storm surge or flash flooding. The sheriff’s office has sandbags surrounding their division at the port. Storing their highwater equipment has been a headache in past storms. So has been losing power in the courthouse with no generator. Their future building has a diesel generator that can run for two weeks straight without losing power.
“We’re next to the crime lab, We’re next to the correctional center, patrol, bureau of investigations, will all be there. My office will be there as well, so it’s a one-stop-shop,” Sheriff Romero said. “We’re all working together, parish government, the council, the sheriff’s office, working together to make Iberia Parish a better place to live.”
The biggest discussion at Wednesday’s council meeting was not whether to buy the $1.6M building but how they were going to fund it. All but one councilman voted to pull approximately $1M from their general fund and $600K from their buildings maintenance fund.
Sheriff Romero said he hopes the new building will be ready and equipped with their IT needs to move individual departments to the space starting this Summer. Once relocated he plans to hold a public open house.