Chief Todd D’Albor
03/09/2018 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey
Gallery: Chief Todd D’Albor [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
New Iberia’s First Police Chief In 14 Years Tells AllBy Lisa Hanchey | Photos By Lee Ball
At an early age, St. Martin Parish native Todd D’Albor got law enforcement in his blood and never looked back. A graduate of St. Martinville High School, D’Albor attended the University of Southwest Louisiana for a year, and then went to work for the St. Martinville Police Department at age 21. He was the first in his family to become a law enforcement officer. “I’d grown up seeing cop shows in the 1980s,” he recalls. “It looked like something I’d want to do.”
The department sent him to the USL Police Academy for training. At that time, future Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom was heading the department. After graduating in March, 1991, D’Albor started full-time with the St. Martinville Police Department. Back when he started, the deputies drove around the tiny town in Dodge Diplomats. “Once you start in law enforcement, it gets into your blood,” he states. “I had many steps in my career, which allowed me the opportunity to become well-rounded.”
While at the St. Martinville Police Department, he became a member of the first canine unit. In 1993, he had the opportunity to work with the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office, where he handled narcotics investigations. During his stint in Jefferson Davis Parish, he seized masses of illegal drugs along Interstate 10.
In 1995, he returned to the St. Martinville Police Department, where he led narcotics investigations. During this time, D’Albor garnered accolades for his successes. In 1997, he received a meritorious service award for his leadership in a deep undercover operation. This investigation led to the arrest of 36 individuals for selling drugs in St. Martinville. All 36 were convicted. “I take more pride in that part of it, because that just shows the integrity that we had with the operation,” he shares. “And, obviously, it was an honor that I received from the chief at the time.”
From there, he went to the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. In January of 1999, which was held in the old FBI building featured in the movie “Silence of the Lambs.” His roommate was a chief warrant officer in the Army, who remains a close friend. “The people that you meet at the FBI Academy are in the top two percent of law enforcement throughout country,” he explains.
After graduating in Class 196 of the FBI Academy, D’Albor returned home to head up the narcotics unit for the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office in mid-1999 under then-Sheriff Sid Hebert. Eventually, he was promoted to captain, where he supervised the enforcement division. “It gave me a lot of experience in the ranks,” he reflects.
Prior to the consolidation of the Sheriff’s office with the New Iberia Police Department in 2004, D’Albor left to do a short stint with the Broussard Police Department. But, the lure of his hometown proved too strong, and he returned to the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Ronnie Theriot. While there, he worked on several large narcotics cases with the federal government. “The opportunity to work with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office was a great experience,” he says.
Among his career highlights was the capture of a St. Martin Parish Jail escapee in 2005. For over two years, the fugitive had remained at large. Through an informant, D’Albor and his detectives learned that the convict was hiding out in Houston. D’Albor reached out to one of his contacts from the FBI Academy, who by then was a major with the Texas Rangers. “With the assistance of the Texas Rangers, we were able to apprehend him and bring him back to St. Martin Parish,” he shares proudly.
In 2006, D’Albor left the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office and returned once again to his first employer, the St. Martinville Police Department. But this time, he had a new title – Chief Administrative Officer under Chief Paula Smith. “There were steps in my career that I thought were important to my growth,” he explains. As CAO, D’Albor wrote the policy manual and many other structural policies. “That gave me a ton of administrative experience,” he reflects.
Then, the renowned officer was called to serve again in Jefferson Davis Parish. At that time, Jennings was experiencing a high crime rate from homicides (the notorious Jeff Davis 8 murders) and illegal drugs. In August, 2010, he was dubbed Chief of Police in Jennings. “Where I am humbled is that I left a good reputation in people’s minds, and they saw that I was someone they could bring in as a positive influence,” he says.
Under D’Albor’s leadership, Jennings was named the safest city in Louisiana per capita in 2012. For the remainder of his term as Police Chief, Jennings remained in the top 11 of the state’s safest cities per capita. At the end of 2017, Jennings had no homicides and major crimes had significantly decreased.
His stellar reputation as a tough-on-crime law enforcement leader attracted the attention of New Iberia Mayor Freddie DeCourt. In 2017, Mayor DeCourt reached out to D’Albor in Jennings, and told him that he wanted to bring the Police Department back to his town. The goal: to concentrate more on crime in the city of New Iberia instead of the entire parish. “I saw a lot of politicians over the years, and I gained a lot of respect for Freddie, because he was getting real numbers from me,” D’Albor reveals. “It’s not hard to see Freddie DeCourt’s heart. I am a Christian, and have strong beliefs. Freddie bleeds that passion, and he is always looking for the next move to better the city. I think what he saw in me was the same type of passion. There are no politics involved – it’s all about doing something good and special here in New Iberia.”
On December 1, 2017, Todd D’Albor was named the first Police Chief for New Iberia since the department was disbanded in July, 2004. He officially takes over in that position on July 1. “I’m a community-oriented kind of guy,” he explains. “The relationship I plan to build with this community is one of trust, and one of integrity. What we want to do is focus solely on the city of New Iberia.”
To gain that trust, D’Albor has personally attended every neighborhood watch meeting in New Iberia to hear about residents’ concerns in each neighborhood. “That’s what we are going to build upon, to start to identify those concerns,” he reasons. “So that when we do take over law enforcement in July, we’ll now have a road map for each part of this city, and deal specifically with those issues. That’s where I think that we can be a positive part. The biggest thing for me is to make sure that I work every day to continue on that trust.”
One of D’Albor’s focuses is on the youth in the city. Since age 18, D’Albor has coached little league sports. “I think that is an outlet for a lot of kids,” he shares. “And, it’s an opportunity also for kids to see you in a different light. I plan to bring a mentoring program into this department, where we can mentor our youth who might be having some troubles in their homes or in schools, so we can be an outlet or resource for our youth in our town. They can call us and see us not just as the people who want to arrest them, but see us as people who will be there for them at their time of need.”
While “Protect and Serve” is usually the motto for law enforcement, D’Albor believes that it should instead be to “Serve and Protect.” “The service part is where people get to see your compassion, your heart,” he explains. “We want to help people with things like changing their tires when they are stranded on the side of the road or helping them carry out their groceries, so that they can see us as human beings.”
On the personal side, D’Albor has been married to his wife, Melinda, for almost 21 years. The couple has two boys – Broc, who is a freshman at UL, and John, 16, a junior at Bethel Christian School. He also has a stepdaughter, Morgan Delcambre, now married with two children.
D’Albor is particularly proud of Broc, who was diagnosed with autism at age 2 1/2. His neurologist told the D’Albors that Broc had only a 15 percent chance of living on his own. But, his parent never gave up on him. The Chief credits Melinda for making Broc into the successful young man he is today. He graduated Jennings High School with a 3.7 GPA, and received the John Phillips Sousa award from the band director. He qualified for TOPS, and nabbed a band scholarship to UL. He plays the trumpet in UL’s Pride of Acadiana band. “I’m proud of that, and I’m proud of him,” D’Albor says.
The Chief has strong ties to Acadiana. His father, Leon John “L.J.” D’Albor, hails from Patoutville, and his mom, Pat Duplantis D’Albor. The two were married for 52 years until L.J.’s death in August. D’Abor’s grandfather and his siblings were from Patoutville and the Jeanerette area. In fact, his great uncle owned D’Albor’s French Market in Jeanerette.
Though D’Albor is compassionate about his family and his community, he also plans to be tough on crime. “On the protection side, we are going to be firm,” he says confidently. “We are going to go after the people who are using illegal guns and dealing drugs. Our ultimate goal is to be the safest city in Louisiana.”