Sheriff Mancuso won’t seek re-election

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

American Press

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso, surrounded by friends and family announced that he will not be seeking re-election in the fall of 2023 and plans to retire.

Mancuso worked for the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office for 40 years. He began his career after realizing he needed a reliable job with benefits to support his future family. “I knew I couldn’t start a family and get married without having some stable job… so I got a job at the Sheriff’s office with really no intentions on staying here as long as I did.”

In 1996, despite his young age, Mancuso was elected as Ward 3 City Marshal. He was re-elected for his second term in 2002.

Not long after his second term as Marshal began, he was elected Sheriff of Calcasieu Parish in October in 2003.

He has since served five terms as sheriff.

CPSO has been modernized with state of the art equipment, technology and law enforcement resources during Mancuso’s time as Sheriff. “My goal was to bring this department to the cutting edge of law enforcement procedures and technology and afford our deputies the opportunity to receive the best training for their day-to-day duties, as well as specialized training, to better serve our community,” he said.

He faced several challenges throughout his career, including Hurricanes Rita, Laura and Delta, a quadruple homicide and three line-of-duty deaths. “I could go on and on about the disasters that we’ve had, and the trouble that we’ve had, that every community has.”

“Mancuso has been instrumental in bridging the law enforcement community in Southwest Louisiana together to show a spirit of cooperation second to none in the county,” said CPSO in a press release.

He expressed his desire for CPSO and Southwest Louisiana to continue to gracefully handle these hardships, whether he is sheriff or not. “We’ve got to make sure that they’re trying to handle and deal with all these crises… I hope and pray that I’m at least giving it a good foundation the way I’m leaving it, and I feel like I am.”

The decision to retire is not one that was made lightly. Mancuso said that he has been considering it for about one year. “I’ve been thinking about it and thinking about it.”

Any hesitation he experienced stemmed from the fear that there are still tasks that need to be completed, on both a grand scale and a day-to-day basis. After contemplation, he realized that the day when there was nothing to fix would never come. “We’re gonna have something that needs to be done every day that we’re out here in our community.”

He is confident that when he retires, CPSO will function as efficiently as it has since he became sheriff. “This department is going to be here with or without me… it’s not going to miss a beat,” he said. “I’m confident that the men and women that work here, whether I’m here or not, can go one and keep doing that, because they’ve learned and they’ve gotten the best training.”

“The people in the parish should be proud of them, not me.”

It is those that will remain at CPSO that encouraged Mancuso to stay for as long as he did. “I don’t think people realize that when you work with these people for so long… you form a relationship with them. They’re your friends,” he explained. “They may come in as coworkers or employees, but over the next 20 or 30 years, you just form a friendship with them, and that’s the tough thing about making a decision like this.”

Not only does he know his team will thrive after he retires, he believes they are the reason for CPSO’s current success. “I’d love to sit here and tell you that Tony Mancuso is the greatest guy in the world, and it’s because of him that this sheriff’s office is the way it is. It’s not,” he said. “It is because of the men and women that have worked in that office.”

“They’ve done everything we’ve ever asked them to do in some of the harshest circumstances, and they’ve never waited the blink of an eye.”

Ultimately, Mancuso decided it was time to make a decision with himself in mind. “I’ve seen people get sick and die here before they had the chance to retire… I want to enjoy life. I want to go on trips. I want to wake up and do what I want to do,” he said. “I want to go to bed at night and worry about what most normal people worry about.”

“I want to live a normal life again.”

However, his decision to retire is not motivated by discontent. “I am very happy… I have fulfilled my dream.”

He has been able to maintain a sunny outlook despite the burdens that are attached to a career in law enforcement. “I’ve had the best and worst times of my life here.”

“Life’s experiences are what you make of them,” he continued. “I think that’s just my demeanor, I’m a positive person and I always try to look at the bright side.”

Mancuso said he felt a wave of relief when he announced his retirement, as if “the weight of the world” was lifted off of his shoulders. “It’s just refreshing to me to know I can take a deep breath and say that I did the best I can do.”

Mancuso said he is retiring without regrets.

“I hope that the public and my staff know that even in some of the toughest of times, we did what we thought was the right thing to do, and we didn’t sugarcoat it,” he said. “I always do what I truly believe in my heart and in my gut is the right thing to do.”

“It doesn’t always work out, it doesn’t mean I always make the right decisions, but that’s how I’ve done it.”

Mancuso’s last day as CPSO Sheriff will be June 30, 2024. When asked about his plans for the rest of his term, he stated that, ideally, he would finally find Joe Matthew Constance, a convicted felon currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

“That would be the only unfinished business that I haven’t done, and I know that there are people out there right now looking and trying to get him, and I hope that gets accomplished before I leave.”

He announced that he will be supporting Gary “Stitch” Guillory, CPSO Chief Deputy, if he decides to run. “When you pick a chief deputy, you pick somebody that if you drop dead tomorrow, they can run this department,” he said. “I’m not going to run again, but I will support Stich if he runs. I’m gonna support him with everything I have.”

“He cares about people like I do, he cares about this community and the safety of this community like I do.”

No matter what, Mancuso believes the future of CPSO is bright and secure.

“I know this department is better than I found it. I know this community is a great community, and I know that they’re going to be just fine.”