Government

There is a New Sheriff in Town

After taking over the reigns of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) in late summer 2017, interim Sheriff Joseph Lopinto won the seat outright in the special election held on March 24th with more than 52% of the votes cast.

Lopinto defeated challenger, Johnny Fortunato in a hard fought race that had some unique twist and turns. Fortunato, a 40 year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office retired shortly after former Sheriff Newell Normand announced his retirement in late July of last year. Focusing on his years of experience with the JPSO, primarily as the Public Information Officer, Fortunato looked to capitalize on his high name recognition as the face of the department. Included in Fortunato’s plan was a call to increase community policing. Fortunato had support from Congressman Cedric Richmond, Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken, Councilman Mark Spears, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn, Kenner Chief of Police Michael Glaser, Westwego Chief of Police Dwayne Munch, Westwego Mayor Joe Peoples, Harahan Mayor Tina Micelli, amongst others.

Lopinto spent most of the six months campaigning on his education, legislative experience, and earlier years with the JPSO. He also had the chance to prove to residents his abilities as interim Sheriff. In 2017, Jefferson Parish recorded the lowest crime year on record dating back to 1974. Lopinto lead the department as Sheriff for over 5 of those 12 months in 2017. In the first two months of 2018, Jefferson Parish has already experienced a 19% reduction when compared to 2017.

Sheriff Lopinto enjoyed the support of Congressman Steve Scalise, former Sheriff Newell Normand, Senate President John Alario, Assessor Thomas Capella, Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer, Council Chairwoman Cynthia Lee Sheng, Councilman Chris Roberts, Councilman Ricky Templet, Gretna Chief of Police Arthur Lawson, Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant, Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner, Grand Isle Chief of Police Laine Landry, amongst others. Lopinto was also endorsed by the Alliance for Good Government, ‘The Times Picayune, Gambit the Jefferson Chamber PAC, the AFL-CIO, and the Republican Party of Jefferson Parish.

Sheriff Lopinto’s message on election night was about unifying the parish. He promised to be a hands on Sheriff focusing on increased technology and training to continue to build upon the JPSO’s extremely high approval rating for crime fighting. His demeanor and steady focus was well received by voters and the rank and file of the JPSO. Many of the recruits that graduated the academy with Sheriff Lopinto years ago make up the rank of the department today.

Lopinto comes from a family with a history of serving in law enforcement. His father Joseph Lopinto worked for the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) serving many years in the Intelligence Division. He ultimately retired from the NOPD with several awards and accommodations.

Sheriff Lopinto and his wife Lauren reside in Metairie and have two children.

About the author

The West Bank Beacon

The West Bank Beacon is a local monthly publication with a mailed circulation of over 15,000 and thousands more distributed at points from Gretna to Grand Isle, the Beacon tells the story of a thriving community. A “good news” newspaper, our mission is to make readers aware of how both individuals and groups are making a positive difference in the neighborhoods where they live. This includes a focus on civic and city initiatives, volunteer efforts, and charity fundraisers, to name just a few examples.

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