Don Breaux, a career law enforcement officer who served four terms as Lafayette's sheriff at the end of the 20th Century, has died. Breaux's son Michael announced the news on Facebook post he published on Wednesday morning. Breaux was 86-years-old.

Breaux served as lawman for 42 years. His career began in 1958 starting as an officer in the Lafayette Police Department. After six years with the LPD, Breaux joined the Louisiana State Police, remaining there for 18 years. Breaux rose through the ranks of state police, ultimately becoming a regional narcotics commander, overseeing drug operations in 17 parishes in south Louisiana.

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Breaux retired as a trooper in 1980 and set his sights on elected office. In 1980, Breaux won his first office, the Lafayette City Marshal's post. Three years later, Breaux beat three other candidates outright in the primary election to become Lafayette Parish's sheriff. Breaux succeeded Ross Brupbacher in the post, who himself had succeeded the legendary Carlo Listi, who resigned as sheriff in March 1984 because of illness.

As Lafayette Parish sheriff, Breaux inaugurated the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center in his first year in office, overseeing the transfer of nearly 800 inmates from the old jail on the top floor of the parish courthouse to the new jail across the street. Breaux also created the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Training Academy and made computers a vital part of the sheriff's office's operations.

In his second term in office, Breaux implemented the parish's first drug education and rehab programs for offenders. In addition, Breaux introduced education programs for inmates, including GED and vocational programs to provide them with the skills needed to find work after their release from incarceration.

Breaux was also an advocate of consolidating sheriff's office operations with Lafayette Police Department operations. While full consolidation never occurred, Breaux helped implement a joint Crimestoppers program that still exists today. With Lafayette Mayor Dud Lastrapes, who died last week, Breaux consolidated the city's and parish's 911 emergency services, police information databases, and jail and central booking operations. In addition, Breaux and Lastrapes helped create the Lafayette Metro Narcotics Task Force, which was disbanded in 2018 when the Lafayette Police Department withdrew from the program.

On top of his law enforcement work, Breaux was heavily involved in civic activities. Breaux was the president of the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association and the Louisiana State Troopers Association. He served on the executive committee of the Evangeline Area Boy Scouts and received the group's Most Distinguished Citizen Award in 1994. Breaux also received Outstanding Lawman honors from the American Legion.

Funeral arrangements are pending.