Sheriff Guillory: ‘I am living MLK’s dream’

Published 11:14 am Friday, June 28, 2024

The formal passing of the torch from Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso to Sheriff-Elect Stitch Guillory Thursday evening at the Lake Charles Event Center was a moving ceremony that included moments of choked-back tears from both men.

It’s been a while since a new sheriff was sworn in.  Mancuso became sheriff in July 2004, and was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2015 without opposition, and again in 2019.

“It is an honor beyond words to be the first African American, and the first from the west side of the river to hold this office,” Guillory said.

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He spoke about Martin Luther’s dream that his children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

“I am living that dream,” he said.

Guillory’s dream includes a community, regardless of skin color, socio economic status or the side of the river they live on to be unified by a common goal – a safe community.

“Together we will build a safe, stronger and more just community for all,” he said.

As Calcasieu Parish District Attorney Stephen Dwight reminded the audience, Guillory’s beginnings were humble. He lived in the projects, worked at bussing tables . He worked himself up in the ranks of law enforcement beginning with the Westlake Police Department, accepted Mancuso’s request to be number two in command at the Sheriff’s Office, and now after 41 years of experience, received 60 percent of the public’s vote to become sheriff.

Mancuso expressed his heartfelt gratitude and pride at the celebration, calling Guillory a “steadfast partner, public servant, trusted friend and newly elected sheriff.”

“Your election is a testament of your hard work,” Mancuso said of the work that earned Guillory respect from colleagues and community.

Guillory was sworn in as Ssheriff by U.S. District Judge James Cain Jr. A pinning ceremony followed to formally recognize Guillory’s command staff: CPSO Enforcement Commander Gene Pittman will take the role of chief deputy; Franklin Fondel, assistant chief deputy of enforcement and investigations; Anthony “Trey” Mancuso, assistant chief deputy; and Jeff Miller, assistant chief deputy of corrections.

Vonita LaFargue’s son, Casey, was recently promoted to commander of investigations. The promotion and the moving ceremony helped confirm for her that her son, who chose to join the Sheriff’s Office right after high school in 2004, made the right choice, a choice that made her proud then and still does.

 Todd Ory has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 29 years. He was recently promoted to captain. The swearing-in ceremony was not just a formality in his mind.

“In today’s climate, it is refreshing to see a community that still supports its law enforcement,” he said. “I feel recharged by this reminder of why I do what I do, thankful to live in a community like I do. It’s not like that everywhere in this country.”