Vidalia police chief on medical leave

Published 12:05 am Friday, May 20, 2016

VIDALIA — Vidalia Police Department Chief Arthur Lewis will be out on paid medical leave until his elected term ends June 30, three aldermen confirmed Thursday.

The city’s charter suggests should Lewis become incapacitated, Assistant Chief Bruce Wiley would step in to meet the chief’s obligations. Wiley said Lewis does not plan to relinquish his position.

Lewis lost his bid for re-election in March to former Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agent Joey Merrill, who will begin his term on July 1.

Email newsletter signup

The new mayor-elect of Ferriday announced earlier this month plans to hire both Lewis and Wiley when she takes over the town’s leadership in July.

City Alderman Tron McCoy said Lewis has had knee problems for some time and had planned to have surgery before the campaign began.

“I think it was a necessary function that he had to have the knee surgery,” he said. “I would go so far to say the election, the campaign, probably held him up having the knee surgery. If that was his decision to not do it during the campaign, that’s understandable.”

Aldermen Vernon Stevens and Mo Saunders had both heard he was taking medical leave related to the knee issue, while Ricky Knapp and Jon Betts said they had not heard anything official.

Lewis did not return a message left on his cell phone Thursday morning.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland did not return a message left with staff Thursday morning.