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|Toney declines to seek second term|
Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney announced Friday he would not seek re-election this fall.
In a prepared statement sent to the media Friday, Toney said recent "controversies" surrounding him and the sheriff's office and the media's "intense…attention" of Toney prompted him to announce his decision not to seek a second term in the fall elections.
"After prayerful consideration with my family, I announce that I shall not seek re-election as sheriff of Ouachita Parish in the fall of 2011," Toney said. "Recent events and controversies have deflected the public's attention from the efficient and excellent services provided by our sheriff's department. As an employee of that department for 36 years, I take great pride in the accomplishments of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Department and believe that I have made a positive contribution to those accomplishments. However, the recent intense media attention upon me has had an adverse impact on my fellow deputies and their ability to serve the public."
Toney said he would not comment on recent events and controversies that have plagued him and his administration over the past few months, but he may do so at a future date.
"My full focus at this time is to retain full stability and efficiency in what I consider to be the finest Sheriff's Department in the State of Louisiana," Toney continued. "During the coming months I will be fully engaged in the operations of this department and in the transition to a new administration.
"Hopefully, this announcement will allow those persons qualified to serve as sheriff an opportunity to fully consider whether they wish to become candidates for this office. I thank the thousands of persons in this parish who have provided friendship, support and prayers for my family during my years of service to this parish."
Toney was first elected sheriff in the fall 2007 elections. He easily outdistanced Joe Bradey with more than 77 percent of the vote.
Toney's tenure as sheriff encountered negative publicity of late.
Last fall, Toney announced the sheriff's office bought the former Ridgedale Academy in West Monroe and plans were in the works to move the sheriff's office's work release program to the former private school.
The announcement involving Ridgedale drew strong opposition to Toney's decision among residents who live near Ridgedale, which is located off Whites Ferry Road in West Monroe.
Weeks ago, Toney was named in civil litigation as having engaged in extramarital affair. Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Ben Jones recently ruled that Toney could be compelled to give a deposition in the lawsuit.
Last week, FBI agents searched the sheriff's office for some 12 hours beginning Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 8. Agents remained in the sheriff's office until the early morning hours of Feb. 9.
The FBI said the search of the sheriff's office was part of an "ongoing investigation."