Kip Judice, candidate for Lafayette City Marshall, joined Discover Lafayette to discuss his desire to serve our community and bring a common-sense approach to restoring trust in the Marshall’s office. The election will be held on November 3, 2020.
Kip Judice developed an interest in law enforcement when he joined the Explorer Scouts in the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s office during his Sophomore year in High School. His keen interest in operations led the staff to encourage him to apply for a job and he was hired at the age of 19 by Sheriff Don Breaux in 1985.
His first job was in the Dispatch Center of the Sheriff’s office and over the years he served in various leadership capacities under Sheriff Don Breaux (1985 – 2000) and Sheriff Mike Neustrom (2000 – 2015). As Commander of the Civil Department under Sheriff Neustrom, Judice garnered experience in operations similar to the duties required of the City Marshall: issuing subpoenas, picking up people on outstanding warrants, handling evictions, and seizing property pursuant to court judgments. He also served as the department’s spokesperson relaying information to the media.
Over the years, Kip Judice has been front and center working to resolve high-profile cases involving heinous criminals. One particularly disturbing case included the “South Side Serial Rapist” who had raped seven women at gunpoint over a thirteen-year period; unfortunately, the perpetrator ended up being a respected employee in the sheriff’s office, Detective Randy Comeaux.
Judice was also involved in another violent criminal being brought to justice after brutally raping and killing seven women between 1992 and 2003. Serial killer Derrick Todd Lee had flown under the radar of law enforcement because he was Black and law enforcement believed that the murders could only have been committed by a white male and were only testing the DNA of white men. During the interview, Kip discussed the emerging use of DNA genomic testing in 2003 which allowed the investigators to determine there was a 98% probability that the same African American’s DNA had been gathered from all of the victims. The case was quickly wrapped up as the crime labs started testing DNA of Blacks who had been arrested and Derrick Todd Lee was the match. Judice’s detective work on the case led to him giving a presentation on investigative aspects in the serial killer case to the highly esteemed Academy of Forensic Sciences in 2006
Another high-profile and fascinating case Judice reflected on involved Knight Oil Tool family where one brother attempted to frame his sibling for a felony so as to cut him out of his anticipated multi-million inheritance. Again using a common-sense approach, Judice and his team solved the crime by examining the evidence which just didn’t add up. Sadly, the case also involved two fellow law enforcement officers who accepted bribes to plant evidence on Bryan Knight.
Judice stayed with the Sheriff’s office until May 2015 when he was hired to serve as Duson Police Chief. He inherited a police department rife with controversy after the previous four chiefs had either been indicted for crimes or were already serving prison time. The office was in disarray with only two employees who were making exorbitant amounts of money due to excessive overtime, there was no records management system, and the community had a mindset that if you knew someone in charge you could receive special favors.
Kip focused on improving the office from day one. By his seventh day in office, he had hired two additional police officers who were already certified and qualified to work in law enforcement. He was able to do this at no extra expense and actually saved the office money by getting rid of the overtime expense that had bogged down the budget. The office also caught up with the backlog of felony arrests awaiting submission to the DA’s office, created a records management system, and affected a cultural change that reinforced the mindset that the law applies equally to all. The Duson Police Department now has eight employees, and Judice is proud of the professional, hard-working staff he has assembled.
During the COVID shutdown, Duson’s finances were crippled by the shutdown of gambling (in the portion of Duson located in Acadia Parish where gambling is legal), as people lost their jobs, and police department revenue declined. Offenders didn’t have adequate funds to pay their fines and the police department didn’t have the resources to pay for janitorial services and other needs. In response to these issues, Judice instituted community service hours in lieu of the collection of fines from non-violent offenders. This policy has been a win-win for Duson as people short on cash can complete 40 service hours by cleaning the police station, washing cars, engaging in litter abatement, etc. Judice believes that a compassionate, common-sense approach is much better than having someone have to borrow money to pay fines or sit in jail.
The Lafayette City Marshall is responsible for ensuring that the Lafayette City Court functions effectively and moves along on schedule. The office serves subpoenas to all parties involved in City Court cases, and handles evictions, garnishments, and small claims court issues arising from City Court judicial decisions. The office collects fines and brings people to jail when ordered to do so.
Judice’s past experience as Commander of the Sheriff’s Office Civil Department mirrors the responsibilities of the Marshall’s office. He stressed that he understands the tasks involved and brings the necessary skills to running the office effectively.
Judice wants to mimic former Lafayette City Marshall Nicky Picard’s actions when he took office back in 1984. He praised the employees of the Marshall’s office stating that even with the administrative issues caused by Brian Pope’s criminal charges, the operations of the office have run very effectively. The Marshall’s office has 26 employees, two of whom are clerical, and runs on a budget of $2.1 million. He has pledged to implement a transparent accounting system that the public can access online (an “open checkbook”), without the need for a public records request, to build back trust in the community.
If elected, Judice plans to implement text messaging to remind people of their mandated court appearances so as to keep them out of jail. This notification system can be implemented at no additional cost as Lafayette Consolidated Government already has the technology in place that the Marshall can tap into.
Judice also spoke of implementing a process called “Instanter” which would be used on people who fail to show up for their court appearance. In lieu of the judge issuing a bench warrant for the person’s arrest, Judice proposes picking them up (“Instanter”), bringing them immediately to the judge, and having them perform four hours of community service under the watchful eye of his deputies who are outfitted with body cameras. The person would then be issued a new court appearance date which Judice is confident they will show up for. Not only does Instanter keep the court system moving and on track, it saves LCG money by keeping people out of jail. Judice explained that the local government is responsible for taking care of people who are incarcerated; i.e., if they need medical or dental care, the costs must be born by LCG. Keeping these offenders out of jail is advantageous for the whole community.
Kip Judice currently serves as President of the Southwest Louisiana Chiefs of Police Association. Active in the Louisiana Chiefs of Police Association, he serves on the legislative committee, which helps to draft and adopt new laws in the state.
On the personal side, Kip has been married to the former Susan Beth Justin for the past 28 years, and has two daughters, Emily and Brandi. He is one of nine children, born eighth in line to the late Jerome and Nelda Girouard Judice.