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Sheriff's Weekly Column

SHOPLIFTING IN JEFFERSON PARISH IS HUGE,

JPSO WORKING TO CUT IT DOWN TO SIZE

     

Many retail and law enforcement officials are in agreement that shoplifting accounts for more than $1 million in thefts every year. But, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, working closely with retailers and the District Attorney, is helping get hundreds of professional shoplifters off the streets of Jefferson Parish.

     

“Jefferson Parish is the center of retailing in South Louisiana,” says Nathan Bell, Asset Protection Manager for Home Depot, a major retailer in Jefferson Parish. “As such, Jefferson retailers ring up tens of millions of dollars in sales each year. But all that merchandise attracts a wide variety of shoplifters, ranging from a teenager trying to shoplift for the first time to career criminals who work in teams and steal thousands of dollars of merchandise each month. Fortunately, we get great assistance and cooperation to catch shoplifters in the act from the JPSO. They average 300 arrests for shoplifting each month in Jefferson Parish. And, now, the JPSO has added two outstanding officers to our team. In two years, they’ve accounted for 400 arrests of some of the worst of the professional shoplifters.”

     

The two officers that Bell is talking about are JPSO Detective Ray Gorman and JPSO Detective Lisa Lunsford. Both are 32-year veterans who have retired and returned to the JPSO to work 32 hours a week at the JPSO Criminal Intelligence Center. Their assignment is to develop a program that coordinates the shoplifting responses of Jefferson Parish retailers, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney‘s Offices and the divisions of the JPSO that respond to calls regarding shoplifters.

     

JPSO Chief Deputy John Thevenot, who assigned Gorman and Lunsford to the shoplifting problem, says, “At the JPSO, we realize the importance of the retail industry in our parish. In the past two years, as we’ve been analyzing shoplifting data we have been able to identify shoplifting organizations operating in the Metro area. We’ve responded by assigning these two veteran investigators to identify these shoplifting organizations and put them out of business by arresting their key personnel.  We have found that many of these professional shoplifters are fueling their drug habits by shoplifting and other crimes. We need to get these people off the streets of Jefferson Parish.”

       

In two years, Lieutenants Gorman and Lunsford have gone through what seems like miles of retailers’ surveillance videos and still photos to identify shoplifters who haven’t yet been caught. “One of the interesting things we’ve discovered is that the belief that most shoplifting is done by teenagers as a lark is definitely a myth,” says Lieutenant Lunsford. “As we compare surveillance film of shoplifters at work and JPSO files, we’ve found that many shoplifters are known violent criminals with past arrests and jail time for homicide, armed robbery, burglary, car theft and other crimes. We’ve also found that many adult shoplifters work in gangs of 10 or 15 or more. These shoplifting rings can account for vast amounts of stolen merchandise.”

     

Lieutenant Gorman says, “Obviously, the way to reduce shoplifting is to identify the shoplifters from surveillance film, prepare the in-house security staffs of retailers with dossiers on these criminals and catch them in the act with the stolen merchandise.”

     

During 2013, with the help of more than 100 Jefferson Parish retailers, the JPSO Patrol Division and these two JPSO detectives have made more than 3,400 arrests of shoplifters. Chief Deputy Thevenot says, “With these arrests, we have been able to dismantle several shoplifting organizations. Detectives Gorman and Lunsford emphasize that they and the Patrol Division gladly share the credit with the DA’s Office that has aggressively prosecuted the shoplifters that have been arrested.

 

“Even after two years, we know that we’re just in the early stages of this fight,” says Lieutenant Lunsford. “But, perhaps for the first time, all of us – the retailers, the JPSO, the DA, Jefferson Parish juries and the judges - are working in concert to solve this problem that threatens to undermine the Jefferson Parish economy.”

 


 

We’d Like To Introduce You to Doerak,

JPSO K-9 Dog In Training

     

     

Welcome to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) Division. The LASER Division is home to the eight K-9 dogs of the JPSO and their handlers. Today, we’re going to meet Doerack a very promising K-9 dog in training and his handler, Deputy Keith Champagne.

     

Doerack is a Belgian Malinois, born on a farm in the Netherlands that specializes in producing K-9 dogs for police departments in the U.S. and across the globe. Belgian Malinois’ have largely replaced German Shepherds as the dogs of choice for police departments. JPSO Colonel Bobby Woods, Commander of the LASER Division, says, “Belgian Malinois’ are overall healthier dogs than German Shepherds. The Malinois’ have longer careers as K-9 dogs than Shepherds. Like the Shepherds, the Malinois’ have an incredible work ethic, tremendous devotion to their handlers, are very aggressive dogs, good learners and love their work.”

     

Doerak (pronounced Dor-rak in English) is a Dutch word and was the name given to the dog as a puppy in the Netherlands. When Doerack arrived in Jefferson Parish, JPSO Sergeant Mark Pennison, head trainer for the Sheriff’s Office, and Deputy Champagne decided to let him keep Doerak as his name since it was the name to which he responded.

             

Doerak is about four feet long, from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. He weighs 75 pounds and is a handsome, heavily muscled dog. At the JPSO, K-9 dogs work until they are in the 10-12 year range. Then, they retire to their handler’s homes where they live out their lives. Belgian Malinois’ can live to be 15 or 16 years old. Even now, when Doerack is still in training, he goes home each evening with Deputy Champagne. It is part of the bonding process that welds Doerack and Champagne together as one.

     

“Doerack is not ever a pet, even when he’s home with me,” says Deputy Champagne, an eight-year JPSO veteran who previously worked in the First District Patrol Division. Doerak is his first dog as a JPSO handler. ”Doerack is a working dog who is fixated on his assignments. The only ones he permits to pet him and play with him are Sergeant Pennison and I. When we go through his drills, Doerack is a perfectionist. That’s what he thinks about.”

 

Because there are just eight slots in the JPSO for dog handlers, it is considered an elite position and there is much competition to be a K-9 dog handler. Deputy Champagne is considered an outstanding officer with great potential. He grew up in Metairie, graduated from Ridgewood Preparatory High School and spent two years at a community college before joining the JPSO.

     

At the JPSO, K-9 dogs are dual purpose workers. They are taught to use their incredible sense of smell to detect illegal narcotics hidden in caches by drug dealers and they are patrol dogs, especially gifted in locating, disarming and subduing perpetrators, even in the dark of an unlit night.

     

One of Doerack’s predecessor K-9 dogs is Taaka, also a Belgian Malinois. In just a few months on the street, along with his handler, JPSO Deputy Marco Borne, Taaka has made three arrests and has located hidden illegal drugs worth thousands of dollars. Sergeant Pennison and Deputy Champagne think Doerack is going to be just as effective and outstanding a K-9 dog as Taaka.

     

“Doerack has all the attributes that we look for in a K-9 dog,” says Sergeant Pennison, who has worked with K-9 dogs for almost 30 years and is considered one of the top K-9 dog trainers in the nation. “He and Deputy Champagne should be ready for the street in just a few months. For a criminal, Doerack is the worst possible nightmare. He is absolutely fearless, totally devoted to carrying out Deputy Champagne’s orders and is a frightening sight when he’s running full tilt at someone he has been ordered to arrest.”

 


 

JPSO Deputy Chief Maggie Pernia Loves

The Bells and Whistles of the Crime Lab

But She Still Believes In Old-Fashioned

Police Work

     

During the decades that JPSO Deputy Chief Maggie Pernia has been helping to solve murder cases, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has helped the District Attorney’s Office obtain indictments and convictions in more than 75 percent of the homicides in Jefferson since Hurricane Katrina.

     

“Actually, our solution rate for murder cases was 99 percent before Hurricane Katrina but our solution rate since Katrina has declined to just more than 75 percent,” says Deputy Chief Pernia. “Katrina shook things up in Jefferson Parish. We’re not the same community that we were prior to the storm. That’s just one of the facts that a police officer has to contend with.”

     

Deputy Chief Pernia was one of the pioneers who broke the barriers against women entering the field of law enforcement. She and several other women were among the first to graduate from the JPSO Training Academy. Deputy Chief Pernia graduated in 1980. During her career, she commanded the Personal Violence Bureau for nine years and has worked in the Homicide Bureau for more than 14 years. At the time when Pernia and a few other women were getting started at the JPSO, the conventional wisdom was that women were not well suited for work in law enforcement. The women proved that to be completely wrong. Today, 35 years later after her start, Deputy Chief Pernia is the only woman member of the Class of 1980 still active in the JPSO.  Today, it isn’t unusual for half or more of a JPSO recruit class to be composed of women. Chief Pernia is proud that young men and women beginning their careers at the JPSO tell her she’s a role model. “I tell them there is absolutely no substitute for hard work,” she says.

            

Deputy Chief Pernia could retire any time she wishes to do so but she says, “I still love the challenge of working to solve murder cases. And, I get great pleasure from working with a wonderful team of police officers here in the Criminal Investigations Bureau. They are absolutely tenacious.  They are hard workers who have great respect for our criminal justice system. We have a great working relationship with the District Attorney’s Office.”

     

Deputy Chief Pernia reports to JPSO Chief Deputy John Thevenot, who also has more than 35 years of service. He says of her, “Knowing that she is on the job gives me a tremendous sense of confidence and security. No matter the complexity of the investigation, Deputy Chief Pernia is never overwhelmed. She has a wonderful work ethic that enables her to never get tired and she has passed that on to the men and women who work for her.”

     

Chief Pernia grew up in New Orleans. She graduated from Cabrini High School and attended Loyola University. She and other young women of her generation were fearless trying to break down the barriers against their gender in law enforcement. She grew up in a household where Spanish was the first language and English was second. Her fluent Spanish often serves her well in the diverse world of the 21st Century where witnesses to a murder may be more fluent in Spanish than in English.

In the course of her long service at the JPSO, Chief Pernia has seen the development of technologies that assist law enforcement and sometimes awe juries who often require what is known as “the bells and whistles of the CSI effect.” Chief Pernia is proud that the JPSO has the best Crime Lab in the region and that the technicians there can shake a cell phone down until they can decipher every call, every text and every tweet. But, she says, there is no substitute for old-fashioned police work that requires an interview with every person even remotely related to a murder case.

     

“A homicide detective has to be a social person who enjoys talking to people endlessly,” she says. “You have to be comfortable knocking on a door and drawing the homeowner into a long conversation that might help your case or might not. No one is more appreciative of the new law enforcement technologies we didn’t have 35 years ago than me but an officer trying to solve a homicide still has to get out of the office and onto the street where the people are.”

     

In the course of her long career, Deputy Chief Pernia has learned from a thousand or more cases that the unchanging rule of law enforcement is that sooner or later, career criminals are caught and either die on the street or in jail. “I’ve never seen a career criminal retire to a beachfront home and a life of luxury,” she says. “We may not get them the first time or the second. But they can’t keep beating the system. We always catch up with them.”

 


 

Jefferson Parish Police Officers Excel

In High-Speed Test That Emphasizes
Tactics, Ethics, Leadership

     

Police officers from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and three other law enforcement agencies recently participated in a five-day Field Command and Sound Doctrine seminar that concluded with a high-speed test that posed questions requiring an excellent grasp of incident response, SWAT tactics, ethical issues, leadership and teamwork.

     

Besides officers from the JPSO, others came from the Gretna Police Department, the Westwego Police Department, the Harahan Police Department and the Kenner Police Department. In all, 55 Jefferson Parish police officers took part in the program. The seminar was conducted at the JPSO Training Academy. On the fifth day of the program, the 55 officers took a rigorous test and participated in a workshop to review all they had learned in the previous four days.

     

The consultants who developed the seminar include a group of retired U.S. Marines, high-ranking Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department executives. Also a member of the group is Dr. Mitch Javidi, a professor at North Carolina State University, and President of the International Academy of Public Safety.  JPSO Major Kerry Najolia, Commander of the Training Academy, says, “This is one of the best law enforcement consulting groups in the nation. They are on the leading edge of teaching tactical science, leadership, law enforcement ethics and teamwork.”

     

At the conclusion of the seminar, Dr. Javidi said, “I would say that the Jefferson Parish law enforcement officers we saw at this seminar compare favorably with any in the country. Sheriff Newell Normand has emerged as one of the most progressive thinkers among law enforcement officials. He understands that the 21st Century is going to pose some very tough issues and judgment calls for police officers and that study and preparation are going to be all-important.”

     

Commander Charles “Sid” Heal said that as their consultant group goes around the nation, working with Police Departments and Sheriff’s Offices, they have concluded that most departments handle the mechanics of law enforcement well but have not set aside the time to consider how to respond to a potentially catastrophic situation that might develop in their jurisdiction.

     

“What should the police do if a high speed chase developers in pursuit of a driver who goes through stop signs and traffic signals endangering the public?” asked Commander Heal. “What should the police do if bank robbers seize hostages and threaten to kill them? And what should police do if terrorists seize a concourse of the airport and hold hundreds of civilian’s hostage?”

     

In the high-speed test at the end of the seminar, the police officer participants were given two hours to answer 300 questions. But they were allowed to form teams to work on the questions and develop answers for their team. “One person probably wouldn’t be able to answer 300 questions in two hours,” said Colonel Tim Anderson, another instructor. “But five teams of 11 officers could concentrate on 60 questions and then share their answers with the rest of the group. And, that is what happened. It was an outstanding example of teamwork, good thinking and out-of-the-box thinking regarding tactics, ethics and leadership.”

     

Dr. Javidi said, “Looking back on our Jefferson Parish seminar, it’s easy to see why Jefferson is one of the safest communities of its size in the nation. This parish really does have a lot of outstanding police officers who understand the principles of teamwork and cooperatively working together.”

 


 

JPSO Celebrates Graduation of Twenty-Two Recruits Ready to Join Patrol Division

          

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office recently celebrated the graduation of 22 recruits from the Training Academy who became deputies assigned to the Patrol Division.

            

Before beginning work at the Patrol Division the newly-activated deputies are completing a rotation at the divisions and bureaus of the JPSO.

             

“This was an exceptional class that did extremely well academically,” said JPSO Major Kerri Najolia, Commander of the Training Academy. “Their average grade of 92.14 sets a new high for the Training Academy. One of the unique aspects of this class is that they studied together cooperatively with the goal of making sure that all the class members passed both the JPSO exams and the state exams.    They accomplished their goals. All 22 of them passed their exams. It was an outstanding example of teamwork.”   

             

President of the class was Deputy Jordan Garrett “At one of our first meetings as a class, we decided that we would function as a team. We decided to regard our classmates as brothers and sisters and agreed that we would work together with the goals of everyone in the class passing both the JPSO and state exams.”

               

The class began March 17, 2014 and graduated July 16, 2014. It received 665 hours of training, more than is required by the state to become a certified police officer. Garrett, in addition to being class president, had a close tie to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. His father has been a member of the JPSO Maintenance Divison for more than 30 years. “I’ve had the dream of standing on the stage at graduation day since I was a little boy riding around with my father as he competed his various assignments,” he said. “The only surprise was that I didn’t know that I would be elected class president. That was quite an honor.” Deputy Garrett will begin his JPSO career in the Patrol Division 4th District.

                    

An unusual aspect of the class is that only one member of the class had previous military service. Ordinarily, said Major Najolia, 30 to 35 percent of every JPSO class are military veterans. “We have found in the past that military veterans often make the best transitions to becoming police officers. But in this particular group, the best resumes and applications came from individuals who have not served in the military. “Another interesting aspect of this class is that all but two of the class members are in their twenties,” said Major Najolia. “Our Training Academy classes usually have a higher proportion of graduates in their 30s. By our standards, this is an unusually young class. However, having watched this group from their first day of class, I am confident that they have the potential to be outstanding JPSO law enforcement professionals.”     

 


 

JPSO YOUNG MARINE OF THE YEAR

GETS A VISIT TO SOUTH PACIFIC

WWII BATTLEFIELD

 

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marine Sergeant Major Joshua Aikman recently stood at the exact spot on Mount Surabachi where U.S. Marines raised the American flag in 1945 during one of World War II’s bloodiest island battles.

     

Not many get to visit the volcanic island of Iwo Jima these days but back in 1945 it was the site of one of World War II’s most hard fought battles. Twenty thousand U.S. Marines were killed or wounded in their successful assault. The 1945 photo of U.S. Marines raising the flag at the peak of Mount Surabachi was one of the most iconic pictures of the Second World War. Of the 21,000 Japanese defenders, only 212 survived the battle. The rest died.

     

“You can still see the Japanese gun emplacement, many of them hidden in caves,” says Sergeant Major Aikman. “But when I came back to New Orleans and asked our JPSO Young Marines if they knew about the battle of Iwo Jima, hardly any of them had heard anything about it at school or at home. So, I’ve made it my mission to teach everyone who will listen about World War II, the role of the U.S. Marines and the other services and their sacrifices for our country.”

     

Sergeant Major Aikman is an 11-year veteran of the JPSO Young Marines program. It is the second largest Young Marines program in the nation, having graduated more than 2,000 Jefferson Parish boys and girls since 1995. The Young Marines are an anti-drug program that stresses military protocol, self-discipline, integrity, responsibility and respect for others.

 Sergeant Major Aikman was named Young Marine of the Year for the four-state Division 4 region of the YM program. Among his rewards was a trip to Los Angeles, Hawaii, Guam and Iwo Jima. Sergeant Major Aikman and five other Young Marines accompanied 24 U.S. Marine veterans – most now in their 80s – to Iwo Jima.

     

Sergeant Major Aikman is an honors graduate of the New Orleans Military Academy, a charter school located in Algiers. He will be attending a local community college where he will major in criminal justice. He has also been accepted as a Corrections Officer by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. He will begin work at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center this fall. Sergeant Major Aikman’s hope is that he will be accepted into a 2015 recruit class at the JPSO Training Academy.

     

“The amazing thing is that as a seven-year-old, I initially didn’t like the Young Marines at all,” says Sergeant Major Aikman. “But I stayed with it and came to love it. I learned about close-order drill from the Young Marines. They taught me how to study and I learned the importance of respecting others. I learned about leadership from the Young Marines. It’s a great program and I’m blessed to have had the chance to benefit from it.”


 

JPSO Young Marines Recruits

Celebrate Their Graduation

     

Twenty-four boys and girls recently celebrated their graduation from recruit training to become full-fledged Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines. They were applauded by a large crowd of families and friends at the Alario Center.

     

The JPSO Young Marines program emphasizes self-discipline, leadership and commitment. The Young Marines is an anti-drug program. Young Marines become proficient in close=order drill, physical fitness and academics. Since the JPSO Young Marines program began in 1995, more than 1,000 Jefferson Parish boys and girls have graduated from the program. In 20 years, less than one percent of all JPSO Young Marines have gotten in trouble with the law. The program is open to boys and girls from the ages of eight to 18. Virtually every Young Marine has seen their grades improve because of the emphasis on academics.

     

“This is an outstanding class,” said JPSO Sergeant William Jones, Commander of the Young Marines program. “They worked very hard in the heat of the summer and achieved all the goals that we set for them.”

     

Sergeant Jones also praised the veteran Young Marines who served as Recruit Instructors, including Young Marine Staff Sergeant Evan Venizia and Young Marine Sergeant Robert Berning. Staff Sergeant Venezia will attend Mandeville High School in the fall while Sergeant Berning will attend Mandeville Junior High School. Both are honor roll students. In a recent LEAP test in Science, Sergeant Berning scored 100 percent. The state average on the test was 58 percent. Sergeant Berning says the Young Marines program has helped him most with his leadership skills. “I was very reserved and shy when I began with the Young Marines four years ago but the program has really helped me become an authoritative leader,” he says.

     

The top award for the recruit class went to Young Marines Private First Class Emily Babineaux. She resides in Ponchatoula and commuted every day to be with her recruit class. A competitive swimmer at St. Michael’s School, she says that the emphasis in Young Marines training on running and cardiovascular fitness has vastly improved her stamina and fitness. “Our recruit class really worked hard,” she says. “The physical fitness drills brought out the best in me. We had great instructors who were very demanding. They pushed us to do more than we thought we could do.”

     

Also a part of the evening’s proceedings was the promotion of JPSO Young Marine Kariel Mayer to Sergeant Major, the highest rank in the Young Marines program. Young Marine Sergeant Major Mayer is a junior at the New Orleans Military Academy in Algiers. An honor roll student, she intends to apply to Stanford University and the U.S. Military Academy upon graduation from high school.

     

“Kariel is a great role model for the other Young Marines,” says JPSO Deputy Joe DiLeo, Training Officer for the Young Marines program. “She is an exceptionally hard worker who isn’t satisfied with anything less than excellence.”

 


 

JPSO Expands Chaplain’s Program,

Now Gets Assistance From

More Than 60 Jefferson Parish Clergy

     

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has vastly expanded its Chaplain’s Program and now has the benefit of more than 60 Jefferson Parish clergy, some of whom provide counseling and prayer for the inmates of the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center while others are taking part in an innovative “ride along” program with the JPSO Patrol Division.

     

The expansion of the Chaplain’s Program has been the work of Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand and JPSO Head Chaplain Rev. Kathy Radke with the assistance of many others.

     

Rev. Radke has been associated with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office since first working at the Correctional Center as a 19-year-old volunteer. She became the Protestant Chaplain at the jail in 1994 and was named Head Chaplain for the JPSO in 2007.

     

“Rev. Radke has done a wonderful job for the JPSO,” says Deputy Chief Steve LaChute. “She has incredible energy and is completely dedicated to providing religious assistance both to the inmates at the Correctional Center and the officers of the JPSO, especially those in the Patrol Division who members of the Jefferson Parish clergy ride with on a regular basis.”

     

Clergy who ride with the JPSO Patrol Division first receive three days of training at the Training Academy. “An unexpected benefit of their participation has been the positive effect of their presence at crime scenes,” says Rev. Radke. “The presence of a chaplain at a crime scene has a calming effect on witnesses and, if there is a victim, the family members who have rushed to the scene.”

     

Rev. Radke says she and Sheriff Normand would like to expand the JPSO Chaplain’s Corps even further and are still looking to create additional Jefferson Parish clergy who might want to either participate at the jail or on the streets with the Patrol Division.

     

Rev. Radke was recently reminded of the importance of a Chaplain’s work when she was in line at a local cafeteria at dinnertime. A neatly-dressed man in line ahead of her with his family and addressed her, “I’m sure you don’t remember me, Ms. Chaplain, but several years ago I was in jail and you came to counsel me. You told me to picture the rest of my life if I became a career criminal or what my life might be like if I got an education and a job.” The man told Rev. Radke her words convinced him to take the path of an education and a job. He said he now had a beautiful family and was active in his church. His hoodlum days were over. “I didn’t even remember him,” says Rev. Radke. “I honestly believe I was directed to him by God and the words I spoke came to me from Jesus Christ. That true story reminds of the impact that a Chaplain can have and why the work we do in the community is so important.”

 


 

JPSO Is A Long-time Ardent

Supporter of Louisiana Special Olympics

     

I take great pride in my role as an enthusiastic supporter of Louisiana Special Olympics and I know that many of my colleagues at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office feel exactly the same way that I do.

     

It was many years ago that I was invited to my first Special Olympics track event. When I saw boys and girls and young adults overcoming their disabilities to perform competitively to the utmost of their ability, I became an instant supporter of Special Olympics.

     

Over the years the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has been proud to assist Special Olympics with their fundraising and to participate in the annual Torch Run by law enforcement agencies. This year, we sent an excellent team to take part in the Torch Run. Among our runners this year was Shannon Lusk, wife of JPSO Captain Sean Lusk, one of our district commanders. Shannon is an excellent experienced runner and I know that she had a great time running with her husband and the JPSO team. Although it was a hot day, it was just a comfortable trot for these experienced runners who were kept well-hydrated by JPSO volunteers who brought along lots of water for the runners.

     

One of the aspects of the Torch Run each year that really means a lot to me is the way that the public responds when they see the law enforcement volunteers carrying the torch for Special Olympics. When motorists get out of their vehicles to cheer on the runners and pedestrians line the sidewalks to applaud the participants in the Torch Run, you know that this is a special, revered cause that has community support and approval.

     

Some might ask what the Torch Run has to do with law enforcement? And the answer is that it has very little to do with law enforcement.  But it has everything to do with community. At the JPSO, we are tremendously proud of our participation in events that are central to the community spirit of Jefferson Parish. Whether it is our support for the annual Heart Walk or the Crimestoppers luncheon or our sponsorship of the JPSO Young Marines – open to boys and girls from the ages of seven to 17 – or the JPSO Band of Excellence – open to Jefferson Parish middle school and high school students – we take tremendous pride in our support of good causes that benefit the residents of Jefferson Parish.

     

The JPSO officers who participate in the Special Olympics Torch Run are volunteers proud to be associated with so excellent a cause as the Special Olympics.

     

I congratulate the men and women of the JPSO, the Kenner Police Department, the New Orleans office of the FBI and Tulane University Security who helped make this year’s Torch Run a great success. We appreciate the applause that was directed to our law enforcement runners but we, in turn, are happy to applaud all of the participants and volunteers who make Special Olympics a great institution in South Louisiana.  

 


 

JPSO Celebrates Graduation Of

13th Citizens Academy Class

     

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office recently graduated the thirteenth Citizens Academy class. The Citizens Academy is open to Jefferson Parish residents. The free program is designed to give citizens knowledge of JPSO operations, procedures, policies, challenges and goals. Classes meet once a week for three hours for eight weeks. The most recent graduating class numbered 43 Jefferson Parish residents.

     

Mark Granier, a Bell South retiree who resides in Lafitte, said of the Citizens Academy, “I knew enough about the JPSO to know that it was going to be good. But it was even better than I expected it to be. Sheriff Normand and his team had complete transparency. We asked them tough questions and they answered them without blinking. Every one of the JPSO officers, including Sheriff Normand, was well-prepared, knowledgeable and articulate. I would recommend the JPSO Citizens Academy to every Jefferson Parish resident. At the end of the day, I was very proud to be a Jefferson Parish resident and very proud to be able to speak well of our Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.”

     

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, who expressed his gratitude to the Academy graduates, said, “We believe that education and transparency are the most effective tools we have for winning support from the community we serve. We have found that the best results are obtained for everyone’s benefit by being completely honest, frank, open and candid. We have found that the JPSO benefits when citizens understand how we operate and how we serve the community.”

     

An unusual facet of the 13th JPSO Citizens Academy class was the inclusion of Jean Lafitte Police Chief Marcell Rodriguez. Chief Rodriguez is the first law enforcement professional to be invited to attend the Citizens Academy. He says that he asked to be invited because he wanted to gain some new insights as to how he and his three deputies can improve their professionalism and their service to the small community of Lafitte. He was tremendously impressed by the Citizens Academy and felt that he gained insights that will benefit him and his deputies whose chief duties are law enforcement and rescue operations when hurricanes or heavy rainstorms endanger the community.

     

“I am really impressed by Sheriff Normand and the way that he puts emphasis on education for police officers and the development of technologies that give police the advantage over criminals,” said Chief Rodriguez. “The other thing that came through was that JPSO officers really love the community they serve and take tremendous pride in having made it one of the safest places in America to work, live and raise a family. That means a lot. We’re much the same in Lafitte. There are only four of us but we really love Lafitte, the people who live and work there and the tourists who visit us. We think Lafitte is one of the best places to live in America and we want to make it even better and safer.”

     

Also in the 13th JPSO Citizens Academy class was Pamela Occhipinti, a Kenner resident who heads Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s Diversionary Programs. “This is a wonderful program and I would recommend it to every resident of Jefferson Parish,” she said. “You learn a lot and you learn to be very appreciative of the men and women of the JPSO.  We’re really blessed to live in a safe community where the JPSO and the municipal police departments are proud to respond to emergency calls in five minutes or less. The more I learned, the better I felt about Jefferson Parish.”

 


 

 

JPSO Band of Excellence Hits New Highs

At Recent Spring Concert

     

The story of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Band of Excellence in its near-five years of existence has been filled with many achievements but few have equaled the band’s performance at its recent spring concert.

     

Fifty-three musicians from Jefferson Parish high schools and middle schools earned a series of standing ovations from a standing-room only crowd that filled the Believer’s Life Family Church on the West Bank where the concert was held. Many who have attended BOE concerts since the beginning of the program in 2010 said this was the best performance ever.

     

The Band of Excellence is a non-profit created by Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand to help improve the musical and marching skills of Jefferson Parish middle and high school students to supplement what they learn performing for their school bands. Sheriff Normand, who is an amateur musician, believes that developing musical skills requires the self-discipline needed to succeed in school and in life.

Since its beginnings, 42 Band of Excellence seniors have won university marching band scholarships. This year, the Band of Excellence has 12 seniors. Two have already won university marching band scholarships for next year and the other 10 have all been scheduled for auditions and interviews with university marching bands.

     

Band of Excellence Director John Summers said of this year’s spring concert, “In some ways it was a premiere performance by our boys and girls. They have worked hard and deserve the applause that filled the church that night. On the other hand, I have to say that I am a perfectionist and I know that we can do even better. We won’t be sitting on our laurels. We’re going back to work with the goal of making further improvements in our performances. And, of course, we’re helpful that all 12 of our seniors get university marching band scholarships. They have worked hard and deserve the chance to take their skills to the next level.”

     

The highlight of the evening’s program at the spring concert was a stirring tribute to the late, brilliant singer Whitney Houston and a performance of the music from the award-winning Broadway play and movie, “Chicago.”

     

Summers said, “I think one of the reasons that the performance was so outstanding was that the boys and girls really loved the music of Whitney Houston and the play Chicago. While they certainly worked hard, I think they also had a lot of fun.”

     

After the performance, the Band of Excellence posed for pictures with its support staff and volunteers, including Sheriff Normand, Band Director Summers, Assistant Band Director Thomas Dean and Administrator Renee Washington.


 

Superb JPSO Honor Guard

Is a Source of Great Pride

     

It takes a very special person to be part of an Honor Guard.

     

Members of the Honor Guard are individuals who take great pride in their personal appearance, in their ability to perform military close-order drill and in the honor of carrying the flags of our nation, our state and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

     

In addition, all the members of the JPSO Honor Guard are volunteers who have full-time jobs and give up some of their free time to participate in the activities of the Honor Guard. 

       

When members of the Honor Guard team – 13 officers in all – talk about their presentations of the colors, you can feel the pride that fills them every time they are called upon to perform the unique service that they provide to more than 50 occasions each year.

     

Very often, the appearance of the JPSO Honor Guard marks a very sad occasion. They often are asked to present the colors at the funerals of active or retired JPSO officers who have passed away. In much the same way, the recent Louisiana Law Enforcement Memorial marked the engraving of 10 names of Louisiana law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. Not long ago, the JPSO marked the re-naming of our headquarters building in honor of the late Sheriff Harry Lee and the construction of a memorial wall on our lawn that bears the names of JPSO officers who have fallen in the line of duty.

     

But, there are also festive occasions when the JPSO Honor Guard enjoys performing, such as a New Orleans Saints or a New Orleans Pelicans ball game. When the Honor Guard presents the colors prior to the singing or performing of the national anthem, the applause of the capacity crowds almost literally rocks the Louisiana Superdome.

     

I would like to take this occasion to thank all of the officers who participate in the activities of the Honor Guard, which is a part of our Community Relations program. We are grateful for these volunteers and we believe that the JPSO has one of the best Honor Guards in the entire nation.


Our Continuing Crackdown on Inebriated Drivers

At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, we believe that one of society’s most dangerous and often-lethal threats is those who drive while intoxicated.

In Jefferson Parish, when there is a fatal traffic crash, there is a 75 percent chance that alcohol is a factor and that at least one of the involved drivers was behind the wheel while intoxicated.

Working closely with the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, we have been able to reduce the number of traffic accidents in Jefferson Parish, the number of traffic accident-related injuries and the number of traffic-related deaths. But we still have a long way to go. Our JPSO Traffic Safety Division frequently sets up DWI checkpoints, often in cooperation with Jefferson Parish municipal police departments.

But a significant part of our anti-DWI effort is based on the individual efforts of JPSO officers such as Deputy Nick Wright of the First District. On his own, Deputy Wright has made a personal study of the driving habits of the inebriated and has become an expert in spotting, testing and arresting DWIs.

Deputy Wright has been honored by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission for his 147 DWI arrests in 2013, the best individual record in the state.

Like all of us in law enforcement, Deputy Wright has seen what a fatal crash does to the victims and he has vowed to do all that he can to save as many lives as he can by getting drunken drivers off the road.

We should probably not be surprised by Deputy Wright’s success. He is a second-generation JPSO officer, the son of Detective Daniel Wright, a 36-year veteran who currently works in the Economic Crimes Bureau.

Deputy Wright has observed that more than half the cases where he makes DWI arrests, the driver has previous arrests for driving while intoxicated. What does that mean to you and me? It certainly puts emphasis on the importance of driving defensively and cautiously. Unlike Deputy Wright, we are not experts at identifying DWIs but I can assure you that they are out there on the roadways of Jefferson Parish.  Please always drive defensively. At the same time, we at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office promise that our Traffic Safety Division and individual officers like Deputy Nick Wright will do all that we can to get intoxicated drivers off our streets.

Newell Normand,
Sheriff


Feds Have Come Up With a Good Plan,
Now We Have To Learn To Implement It

I believe in practice. I believe that if you are given an assignment, you learn the theory in the classroom until you understand it perfectly, then you take it into the field and practice doing your assignment until it becomes second nature.

To give credit where it is due, ten years after Hurricane Katrina the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has come up with a good plan for coordinating the federal, state and local first responders when an emergency strikes. The feds went back to Hurricane Katrina, reviewed all the mistakes that were made in coordinating first responders in that disaster and have now come up with what is surely the best emergency preparedness plan that we have ever had. To be perfectly honest about it, while everyone – including the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office – could have done a lot better during Katrina, the performance of the federal agencies was especially woeful. They were not well prepared. If we all follow their plan, we will do much better next time. At the JPSO, many of us refer to what we learned from that hurricane as “The Lessons of Katrina.”

t the JPSO, we have adopted the Homeland Security Plan, known as ICS 300-400, and we are going to try to perfect it. We are especially fortunate in having JPSO Colonel Terry Pond, a member of our Reserves who has been teaching and implementing emergency preparedness plans for 45 years, to teach this course. We will learn it in the classroom – all 1,500 of us – and we will practice it in the field to be sure we can implement it. To be honest about it, it’s a lot easier to implement a plan on a nice sunny South Louisiana day than it is when hurricane rains and winds are drenching everything and knocking over trees and, buildings while throwing cars around like Lego toys. But we will find ways to make our practices realistic.

As you probably know, at the JPSO we have taken the Lessons of Katrina to heart. The JPSO has a fleet of heavy duty trucks that can make their way through flooded streets. We have a fleet of boats that can go through shallow water and deep water. We have two helicopters. We have completely revamped our communications system and have a flood-proof communications center. We have stored extra sets of uniforms and food because during Katrina, many of our officers didn’t have a change of clothing and ran out of food.

What does all of this mean to the more than 450,000 folks who live, work and raise their families in Jefferson Parish? It means we are focused on hurricane preparedness and emergency preparedness. Our goal is to protect your property and your lives. We could not be more serious or determined. In South Louisiana, we know there will be a future emergency. We just don’t know when it will come. But you can be assured that when it does come, we will be as ready as we can be.


JPSO Honors Our Fallen Heroes

One of the challenges of recognizing and honoring brilliance, heroism and greatness is to create a venue that suitably evokes the special feelings we have for those being honored.

As you can imagine, because it was so important to all of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office a great deal of thought and consideration went into the planning of our memorial to Sheriff Harry Lee and 10 JPSO officers who have died in the line of duty since 1965.

The dedication of a statue of Sheriff Harry Lee and a Wall that memorializes our Fallen Officers is a reflection of the emotional feelings that pervades the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office as we contemplate the lives of Sheriff Lee and the fallen officers.

In my opinion and the views of most contemporary Jefferson Parish historians, Harry Lee was one of the most important, productive and charismatic individuals in the history of Jefferson Parish which goes back to 1825. While Sheriff Lee, who served for 28 years and six months in office, may at times have been a controversial figure it is surely undeniably true that during his tenure, he built the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office into a functional, effective and modern law enforcement organization that is very proud of its record of making Jefferson Parish one of the safest communities of its size in the United States.

I often think back to the day of Sheriff Lee’s burial in 2007 when the streets were filled with citizens, many of them waving home-made signs memorializing Harry Lee. I cannot think of any other funeral procession in my lifetime that evoked such strong feelings of love and admiration for a public figure.

As I look each day at the statue of Sheriff Lee in the shadow of the Memorial Wall of Fallen Officers, I think of Harry Lee’s grandchildren, Gavin and Miranda. As they grow into adults, I think they will be filled with pride that their grandfather was such an exceptional public servant to be so honored that the headquarters of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has been named for him and his statue stands in perpetuity on the lawn. It was especially meaningful for all of us that Sheriff Lee’s wife, Mrs. Lai Lee, and Sheriff Lee’s accomplished daughter, Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng, were able to attend the ceremony honoring respectively, their husband and father.

I thought it was very appropriate that in his benediction, the Reverend John Talamo, our JPSO Chaplain, asked God’s blessings for Sheriff Lee, for the Fallen Officers who we have honored, and the 1,500 men and women of the JPSO who each day go to work for the purpose of making Jefferson Parish one of the best places in the United States to live, work and raise a family.


A JPSO Young Marines Field Trip
Teaches Some Valuable Lessons

All of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office are very proud of our Young Marines program.

Founded in 1995, more than 1,000 Jefferson Parish boys and girls have graduated from Young Marines recruit training. Many of these graduates are now parents themselves and their children are or will be Young Marines as well. Every Young Marine promises never to use illegal drugs. Young Marines learn self-discipline, good study habits, close order drill, physical fitness, respect for others and the difference between right and wrong. Less than one percent of all Young Marines ever get in trouble with the law. Virtually every boy and girl who has joined the Young Marines has improved their grades in school. Many Young Marines have become the first members of their families to go to a university or community college.

One of the ways that JPSO Young Marines learn important things is through field trips.

Recently, fifty-six JPSO Young Marines accompanied by nine adults attended A Tribute to Veterans model airplane show held at the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway in St. Charles Parish. Among the sponsors was the U.S. Marine Corps League of Louisiana.

There were more than sixty veterans on hand to see the radio-controlled model planes that were miniature replicas of the combat aircraft from World War I through the Gulf Wars. Many of the veterans who attended are residents of the Veterans Administration Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve, Louisiana.

The Young Marines got to meet the veterans. They helped the veterans get seated, especially those with infirmities and served them lunch. In the course of their duties – which they performed very well and with great respect – the JPSO Young Marines had an opportunity to engage in conversation with the men and women who have served our nation. Many of the veterans had seen combat during their time in the service, going back as far as World War II and as recently as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We teach the Young Marines that veterans of our military services deserve our respect and admiration but there is nothing quite like actually being in the presence of veterans and talking to them to really make the point.

Young Marines range in age from eight to 17. If you know a boy or girl who might benefit from the experience of being a JPSO Young Marine, please call the Young Marines office at 376-2380 for more information. The JPSO Young Marines have won many awards for outstanding service to the community and I am sure they will win many more awards.


JPSO’s Recent Awards Help Validate
The Emphasis on Training

I make no secret of the fact that I am a strong advocate of education and training for adults as well as children. My more than 30 years of experience with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has long since convinced me that a well-trained police officer is most likely to be the one who makes the right decisions even in touch-and-go and life-and-death situations.

In the last several years, viewing the JPSO’s performance from the perspective of the Sheriff’s Office, I have come to the conclusion that, as a department, we have done an excellent job of teaching JPSO officers at every level how to perform the physical aspects of the job. When it comes to weaponry or self-defense or driving a police car at high speeds on a slippery road, I don’t think anyone out-performs our JPSO officers. But, at the same time, I have come to believe that although the JPSO is a progressive organization we have not put enough emphasis on the intellectual aspects of being a police officer. It seems to me that in the 21st Century, in addition to the physical skills required by the job, a police officer must be smart and able to make good moral and ethical decisions even in fast-moving situations where there are only seconds to decide what is right and what is wrong.

This has led to the JPSO leadership training program that is required of all law enforcement personnel from the newest deputies to deputy chiefs. This program, now being emulated in 100 police departments and Sheriff’s Offices around the country, encourages our police officers to give their most serious consideration to the morality and the ethics of the work that we do at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. In my opinion, it is not too much to expect police officers, even when pressed, to make good 4moral and ethical judgments. But it isn’t fair to expect them to instinctively know the right thing to do. I think that morality and ethics are teachable subjects. I think it’s remarkable that in the two years we have been teaching our leadership program, we have seen citizen complaints about JPSO officers decline by 50 percent. That certainly suggests we are on the right track.

In much the same way, we have developed one of the nation’s best Crisis Intervention Training programs. Increasingly, we find that police officers are the ones who are summoned when mentally ill persons stop taking their medications or suffer some other kind of upset that puts themselves, their families or police officers who come to assist them at risk.

We are blessed in that regard because two of our JPSO officers – Lieutenant Gil Reith and Detective Keith Reaves – have been pioneers in the development of non-confrontational methods to get the cooperation of the mentally ill. Today, our CIT classes attract not just JPSO officers but police and social workers from other law enforcement organizations.

So, we thank the International Academy of Public Safety and the Crisis Intervention Training International for their awards. We promise the residents of Jefferson Parish that the JPSO will continue our efforts to be on the leading edge of law enforcement training, conduct and response.


The Excellent Job Done By the Reserve Division
Helps the JPSO Keep Jefferson Parish a Safe Community

From the very beginning of my career at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office more than 33 years ago, I was told that the then-newly-founded Reserve Division was going to be a tremendous help in making Jefferson one of the safest communities of its size in the nation.

I was reminded of that prophetic expectation of decades ago this year as I watched the men and women of the JPSO Reserve Division do an excellent job of providing crowd security first at the annual Jefferson Family Gras celebration and then along the parade route of the Jefferson Parish Mardi Gras krewes.

We are incredibly fortunate in Jefferson Parish to have 145 men and women who have chosen to be unpaid JPSO Reserve police officers. Most of them have full-time jobs and family responsibilities yet they give tremendous amounts of time as Reservists in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. At the JPSO, we treat Reserves and Regulars exactly the same. A Reserve officer has to pass the same academic and physical tests as a regular. Reserves and Regulars carry the same equipment.

Reserve officers are doing a wonderful job in the four JPSO patrol districts. In particular, the work of Reserve Patrol Officers – coordinating with our Regulars – has sharply reduced crime in the Woodmere Subdivision. We believe in aggressive patrolling to curtail crime and the JPSO Reserve officers have been outstanding in that regard.

We are currently recruiting Reserve officers for the JPSO. If you are interested, please visit our website – www.jpso.com. Check out the Reserve section under the Career Opportunities icon. If you think you’ll be a good fit in the JPSO Reserve Division, please visit our Personnel Office located in JPSO Headquarters adjacent to the West Bank Expressway. Obtain an application, fill it out and return it to the Personnel Office. We’re always looking for community-minded individuals who can become part of the JPSO Reserve Division.

In closing, I want to thank JPSO Deputy Chief Morgan Nalty and the men and women of the Reserve Division. They played a major role in making the 2014 Jefferson Parish Family Gras celebration and Mardi Gras a superb success. Congratulations on a job well done.


Each Year, JPSO Boats Save Lives

It is hardly news that Jefferson Parish is surrounded by water. For those of us who enjoy boating, fishing, water-skiing or exploring the bayous of South Louisiana, the access to water is a wonderful blessing.

But, each year, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is called upon to rescue boaters who are lost, capsized, out of gas, in trouble in a storm and many other situations. In fact, this year, the JPSO LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) has already responded to several boating mishaps. All too often, these rescue missions become the difference between life and death.

So, because search and rescue is such an important part of our mission, we are always seeking to acquire vessels that can supplement and improve our ability to respond quickly and effectively to calls for help.

We are very pleased that our LASER Division was able to acquire through a Federal Port Security Grant an especially-designed 33-foot Boston Whaler patrol boat that will perform a number of functions for the JPSO and the public we serve. We are especially pleased that the Boston Whaler was acquired at no cost to Jefferson Parish taxpayers.

Under the terms of the Port Security Grant, we were able to write the specifications for the Boston Whaler. It is a very fast boat, capable of hitting speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. On rescue missions that require both a helicopter and one more boats, the Boston Whaler will excel. We asked for and got an excellent communications system on the boat that will enable the crew of the Whaler to communicate with other boats, helicopters, Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments. One of the lessons of Hurricane Katrina that we think about all the time is that a radio that can’t communicate with other law enforcement agencies is very limited indeed.

While creative grant-writing is not one of the functions of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office that is highly publicized, it is absolutely invaluable to any modern law enforcement agency. The acquisition of equipment through grants from either the federal or state government can save taxpayers millions of dollars in a short time.

The Boston Whaler is a great addition to the JPSO’s flotilla that I am sure will serve the public well and on many occasions bring a positive conclusion to search and rescue missions that will save lives.


JPSO K-9 Dogs Are an Indispensable Part of Our Team

It’s always amazing to me how multi-purpose K-9 dogs have become in law enforcement.   

At one time, there was a clear differential between patrol dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, dogs trained to find missing persons or bodies and explosive-sniffing dogs.

But K-9 dog training has become so refined and specialized that today we are seeing multi- purpose dogs like Taaka, a nine-year-old JPSO veteran who is equally comfortable as a patrol dog searching under a house for a burglar trying to get away or as a drug-sniffing dog tenaciously checking out every possible hiding place for a cache of illegal drugs.

In the same way that K-9 dogs are evolving, so are their handlers having to learn to handle multiple tasks. That is why the training of JPSO Deputy Marcus Borne and Taaka as a team is so important. When they are called upon to search a warehouse where a criminal might be hiding, Taaka and Deputy Borne have to be on the same page every instant because both of their lives are on the line. And, when they are called upon to search an alleged drug dealer’s pad for hidden drugs, Deputy Borne has to be attuned to Taaka’s every move because the drugs could be hidden anywhere. A desperate drug dealer can be pretty innovative. But, Taaka has a reputation for finding even the best-hidden cache.

That is why we have given the task of training Deputy Borne and Taaka to become a complete team to JPSO Sergeant Mark Pennison, a 31-year veteran and one of the best dog handlers we’ve ever had at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Because he has worked with K-9 dogs for almost 30 years, Sergeant Pennison understands the level of communication that must exist between handler and K-9 dog when they are on the street. Taaka is famous for being a very strong dog who requires an equally strong handler.            

We are all looking forward to the time when Sergeant Pennison declares that Deputy Borne and Taaka are ready to go on patrol duty together. We believe they will be a great team.


JPSO First District Has a Long Tradition
Of Excellent Law Enforcement

The JPSO First District has a long tradition of providing outstanding law enforcement for Jefferson Parish’s finest residential neighborhoods and some of its largest retail outlets.

The First District has also benefitted from a long list of consecutive excellent commanders who have provided outstanding leadership for the officers assigned to the district. The current Commander of the First District is Captain Joshua Wingrove, a 19 year veteran of the JPSO.         

The area the First District encompasses include Assigned to the First District is the law enforcement responsibility for some of Jefferson Parish’s premier residential neighborhoods along with the parish’s largest shopping centers and commercial areas.

I am in full agreement with Captain Wingrove’s advice to homeowners and apartment dwellers. We ask that you never leave home without locking your doors. If you have a burglar alarm, be sure to turn it on. Captain Wingrove’s officers also do a good job of counseling with business owners on making their buildings burglar-proof. Whenever I address a civic group in Jefferson Parish, I echo Captain Wingrove’s sentiments -lock your vehicle’s doors, never leave expensive items in plain view inside your vehicle. Also it is crucial to remember to remove all firearms from within your vehicle.

Another factor in the excellence of the First District is the support that we get from the community. There are literally hundreds of residents of Metairie who call the JPSO when they see something suspicious in their neighborhood. We are glad to check out tips. If it turns out to be a false alarm, no harm done. But very often, sharp-eyed citizens see something in their neighborhood that looks out of place and it turns out that they were right to be suspicious.

One of the many reasons that I am proud of both the JPSO and the community that we serve is the excellent relationship that binds the JPSO and Jefferson Parish together. One of the reasons for that great relationship is that I think the residents of Jefferson Parish appreciate the efforts of our officers to respond to emergency calls in five minutes or less. Commanders like Captain Wingrove do a great job of educating their young officers on the importance of fast response times and the pride all of us at the JPSO take when numerous units respond to an emergency call.

Newell Normand,
Sheriff


Looking Ahead to Tremendous Development
That is Coming to the West Bank

 We are often asked why the new station house for the JPSO Third District was located in the woods along the Leo Kerner Highway near the West Bank community of Lafitte.

 The answer is that with the complete rebuilding of the old Huey P. Long Bridge, we anticipate tremendous development in areas of the West Bank that are part of the Third District. To put it another way, we want our Third District headquarters located where the future development of the West Bank is going to be.

 Although the Third District headquarters is located in a relatively undeveloped area of Marrero right now, our Third District patrol cars are able to reach any part of the Third District in five minutes or less.                             

 I think we are fortunate in having outstanding personnel assigned to the JPSO Third District. Captain Larry Dyess and his team do an excellent job of law enforcement in what is the largest JPSO district and certainly the most diverse.

 As Captain Dyess notes, on any given day or during any given hour, the officers of the Third District may respond to a call about drug dealers and also a call about alligators sunning themselves in someone’s back yard. As the residents of the Third District know, our officers are equally quick to arrest drug dealers and assist the expert employees of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in chasing alligators back into the swamp.

 As with our other three JPSO districts, Captain Dyess and his officers take great pride in responding to all emergency calls in five minutes or less, regardless of what part of the district they happen to come from. This is a tradition of long standing at the JPSO. In response to an emergency call, we expect the first JPSO patrol car to be at the front door of the person who made the call within five minutes and we expect a second and third car to be only moments behind.

 I am really proud of the special relationship that the JPSO officers assigned to the Third District have with the community that they protect. Our goal in the Third District and throughout Jefferson Parish is to continue to help make Jefferson Parish one of the safest communities of its size in the nation and a wonderful place to raise a family.


We’re All Cheering for JPSO Young Marine Joshua Aikman

 I think everyone at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is an admirer of the JPSO Young Marines. When you’ve had a chance to watch these boys and girls – between the ages of eight and 17 – march with perfection in close order drills, push themselves through tough physical fitness drills and excel in classroom learning, it’s pretty difficult not to applaud their efforts.

 But, even more important, is the personal development that we see in these Young Marines. They start out as eight or nine-year-olds learning the rudiments of marching together and, eight or nine years later, emerge as high school seniors with good grades headed for colleges and universities around the nation.

 I’ve had a 50-yard line seat to watch the JPSO Young Marines since their start in 1997 and there is no better example of the transformative powers of the program than the steady rise of JPSO Young Marine Sergeant Major Joshua Aikman.

 Joshua became a Young Marine in 2005. As we can all recall, that was not a good year for Jefferson Parish. Hurricane Katrina caused immense damage. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office suffered along with every other institution in the parish. It was a tough year for the JPSO Young Marines as well. Virtually every family’s life was disrupted. Many boys and girls were unable to continue as Young Marines as their families moved from the parish. But in those chaotic times, Joshua Aikman was one who stayed the course. And, as the years passed, he became an outstanding Young Marine. Like virtually every other Young Marine, his school grades improved. Joshua became more focused, more reliable and began to demonstrate leadership qualities that enabled him to help others.

 Today, Joshua is an 18-year-old high school senior who has been named the Outstanding Young Marine for an eight-state region and is being considered for the National Outstanding Young Marine award. I have my fingers crossed. I certainly hope he wins it. I think he would be a very deserving National Young Marine of the Year.

 But, whatever the outcome of that competition, what is most important to me is that for Joshua and many dozens of other Young Marines, this program helps boys and girls mature in a positive way. It also helps them find direction in their lives. Joshua says the example of the many JPSO officers he has met has inspired him to seek a career in law enforcement. After high school graduation, he will seek a degree in criminal justice.

 So go to it, Joshua. We’ve watched you grow from a little kid to a teenage role model. We’re cheering for you and we know that you’re going to do great things in the years ahead.


Thank You, Optimist Club, For Recognizing
The Life-Saving Response of JPSO Sergeant Oliver Silvey

 We are very fortunate at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in having tremendous community support that is appreciative and cares deeply about the well-being of our officers.

 One of the latest examples of this was the fine tribute that the Optimist Club gave JPSO Sergeant Oliver Silvey for his fast response to save two persons trapped in a smoking car. Sergeant Silvey literally put his own life on the line because no one could tell if the car was about to burst into flames as he forced his way into it and pulled out a mother and child to safety. As Sergeant Silvey says, he reacted to the situation without even thinking about it because there was no time to ponder what the right move might be. He had to act in a heartbeat and that is what he did.

 I want to thank the Optimist Club for their support of the JPSO. We are blessed indeed that several of Jefferson Parish’s leading civic groups annually shine the spotlight on JPSO officers who have distinguished themselves by their bravery.

 I am in complete agreement with Mike Hymel, Past President of the Optimist Club, who says that the tributes paid to individual officers are actually intended to honor all of the 1,500 men and women of the JPSO. I also agree with JPSO Captain Larry Dyess, Commander of the Third District, who says that Sergeant Silvey is one of 77 outstanding officers in the Third District, who lay their lives on the line every day and are also deserving of recognition.

 In my opinion, what makes the JPSO an outstanding law enforcement organization is the sense of teamwork and the pride that officers like Sergeant Silvey bring to their work each day. No one ever knows when their moment will arrive that requires them to do something exceptional, even at the risk of their own life. I am proud to say that bravery and concern for others are common virtues shared by the law enforcement officers of the JPSO.

 Thank you again, Optimist Club. We cherish your support. And, congratulations again to Sergeant Oliver Silvey who in a moment of extreme stress did exactly the right thing.


It’s No Surprise When a JPSO Young Marine
Is Honored For Outstanding Achievements

Of course, I was very pleased when I heard that JPSO Young Marine Sergeant Kevaun McCall had been named “Mr. John Ehret” by the faculty and students at Jefferson Parish’s largest high school.

But I was certainly not surprised. The JPSO began its sponsorship of the Young Marine program in 1997 and it seems that almost every year, a JPSO Young Marine wins a local or national award. The Young Marines are a national program and our Young Marines program is considered one of the nation’s best. When you visit with Young Marines like Sergeant Kevaun McCall, it’s easy to see why.

The Young Marines are open to Jefferson Parish boys and girls between the ages of eight and 17. It is always fascinating to me to see the development of these young people as they grow up and begin to achieve recognition for the outstanding things that they do. Of course, not every Young Marine is going to be named “Mr. John Ehret.” And it is also true that the Young Marine program is not for everyone. But for those who like the idea of being part of a team that is devoted to self-development and good deeds, it seems that the achievements are without limit.

JPSO Young Marine Sergeant Kevaun McCall is a wonderful example of how boys and girls in the program learn to manage their time. He is not only active in school activities and a good student but also finds time to work on special Young Marine projects like raising funds for the American Heart Association and packing Thanksgiving baskets in the annual Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office effort to fill and distribute turkey dinners to needy Jefferson Parish families.

Like virtually every boy and girl who enters the Young Marine program, Kevaun has seen his grades improve as he has learned to focus and improve his concentration. Now he is preparing to go to Northwestern Louisiana State University in Natchitoches where he will be a pre-med major. My hope for him is that he will achieve his goal of becoming a medical doctor and, after completing his internship and residency, will return to Jefferson Parish to continue his outstanding record of serving our community. We are very proud of Kevaun and all the JPSO Young Marines and wish them all continued success.


 

The Generosity of JPSO Employees and Their Families

Is A Truly Wonderful Thing To See

     

After more than 30 years in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, I am no longer surprised by the incredible generosity of our 1,500 employees who raise money or give gifts to a wide array of wonderful causes.

     

Of course, this is the season when our employees really step forward. Hundreds of JPSO employees volunteered to help organize and distribute 1,800 Thanksgiving baskets for needy families just a few weeks ago.  This week, volunteers from the Children's Hospital Toy Drive arrived to gather hundreds of gifts given by JPSO employees for the patients at the hospital and their brothers and sisters as well.

     

Earlier this year, I saw the usual incredibly generous response to the fundraising efforts of the American Heart Association and the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Research program.

     

I am especially pleased that this year, the JPSO Young Marines became deeply involved in many of the fundraising activities. It seems to me that among the valuable lessons we teach these young people - who range in age from 8 to 17 - is the importance of giving back to the community.  There is no question that the adults at the JPSO fully understand and appreciate the importance of always thinking about how we can give back.

     

It has been suggested on many occasions that JPSO officers are especially generous because they often see the worst of the worst and it lifts their hearts to help others. That may well be true. But the same generosity that we see in our law enforcement personnel also resides in our clerical employees. My own thought is that by being involved with a law enforcement agency, all of our employees become aware of the good causes and needs of the community that we serve.

     

On that note, and on behalf of all our 1,500 employees, I want to take this occasion to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season, a blessed and merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


It’s Gratifying To Share Our Story
With Jefferson Parish Residents

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Citizen’s Academy might well be one of our best ideas.

I was reminded of how well the concept of the Citizen’s Academy works at the recent graduation of our most recent class. All 24 graduates were delighted by their experience with us and felt they had learned important things about law enforcement in Jefferson Parish. What makes me most proud is the outstanding presentations of our officers who are called upon to explain what they do, how they do it, what our procedures are and why we do it that way. That is always followed by excellent questions from our Citizen’s Academy class. Our rule is that we answer all questions. We believe in complete transparency. There are no hidden agendas at the JPSO.

The JPSO Citizen’s Academy came about because we believe that education is the best way to help the citizen’s we serve understand what we do and how we do it. Feedback from all segments of the Jefferson Parish community made us aware of the importance of creating a forum where our officers talk about every aspect of our work and answer every question. Each officer who is asked to address the Citizen’s Academy prepares his or her curriculum and they do an excellent job. We encourage classroom discussion and are pleased when every member of the Citizen’s Academy class participates.

I have learned from experience that every member of the Citizen’s Academy class learns a great deal about the Sheriff’s Office as well as gaining an understanding of the importance of a solid, working relationship between the police and the public that we serve. In Jefferson Parish, we are blessed with tremendous positive support from all segments of the community. But our success in gaining community support has not made us complacent or smug. As Mr. David Hecker, a member of our most recent Citizen’s Academy class said, the class was tremendously impressed by the professionalism, technical competence and commitment of the officers they met. If you have not yet enrolled in a JPSO Citizen’s Academy class, I hope you will consider calling Deputy Chief Steve LaChute at 363-5547 to get more information. I hope to see you in a future Citizen's Academy class.


JPSO Is A Proud Supporter of Louisiana Special Olympics

It was a real privilege for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office to join with the Benson family to help make the Louisiana Special Olympics “Over The Edge” program a great success.

We are proud supporters of Louisiana Special Olympics. I have been to several Special Olympics events and it always touches my heart to see boys and girls overcome their handicaps to compete in track and field contests.

We are very pleased that the 52 major donors to the Special Olympics were able to fly on one of our helicopters to the JPSO Training Academy and Firing Range. I strongly believe that it benefits those of us in law enforcement to invite the public into our facilities to see what we do, how we do it and why we do it.

I was especially pleased that so many of the donors were impressed by our “Shoot House” which is where our police officers participate in drills that help them make instantaneous decisions in shoot-or-don’t shoot situations. In the “Shoot House,” one realizes how few seconds there are in dim lighting when an officer has to decide if the person he sees is an armed criminal ready to fire his weapon or a scared innocent bystander in a terrifying situation.

The opportunity to work with our friends at Louisiana Special Olympics also reminds us of the JPSO’s deep involvement in our community. In recent weeks, we have seen JPSO employees extend themselves to raise meaningful sums of money for the American Heart Association and the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Research program. And, in the next week, we will work with our partners from Valora, churches in Jefferson Parish and the Gretna Police Department to fill and deliver 1,800 Thanksgiving baskets for families that might otherwise have to do without on this special holiday.

I think that all of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office are proud of our involvement in the community as well as the work that we do to keep Jefferson Parish one of the safest communities of its size in the United States.

I hope you’ll consider making a donation to Louisiana Special Olympics. If you ever get a chance to attend one of their events, you should do so. I’m sure that your heart will be touched by the efforts of these boys and girls.


We Are Proud To Host Symposium
For Homicide Investigators 
       

It was a gratifying moment for me to see 65 homicide investigators from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement agencies from throughout Louisiana and Mississippi gathered at the JPSO Training Academy for a very informative and practical conference on murder investigations.

Many of those who attended the symposium, which was certified by the International Homicide Investigators Association, observed later that they were not aware of any other law enforcement facility in the region that could have hosted the conference in such a comfortable manner.

Special credit goes to JPSO Detective Steve Buras, a member of the board of the International Homicide Investigators Association, who coordinated the event. Detective Buras is a 41-year JPSO veteran who spent 35 years in the Homicide Division, investigating and solving murder cases. He is one of the nation’s best qualified homicide experts to have brought together this symposium that attracted homicide investigators from across Louisiana and Mississippi. And, certainly, the JPSO also benefited from hosting this symposium that was attended by 20 of our Homicide Bureau and Crime Lab investigators.

It is also a point of pride that Detective Buras chose many JPSO experts on homicide investigations to serve on the faculty of the symposium along with other national experts. At the JPSO, we put a tremendous emphasis on solving homicides and providing the District Attorney’s Office the evidence they need to obtain convictions.

When we invested the public dollars to build the Training Academy and the Firing Range, it was the realization of a vision shared by the late Sheriff Harry Lee and many of our JPSO colleagues. We wanted a facility with multi-media capabilities that could be used to train JPSO recruits, provide in-service training for veteran officers and host events like the symposium on homicide investigations that would bring attendees from throughout the region.

Today, that dream has been realized. We gladly share our facility with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies from throughout the region. When I welcomed the symposium attendees to the JPSO Training Academy, it certainly occurred to me that all the things we hoped for have indeed come to be achieved.               


JPSO Citizen’s Academy Is Part Of
Our Complete Commitment to Transparency

At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, we believe that education, transparency and the willingness to share information is the most effective means that we have for gaining understanding and support from the community. The creation of the JPSO Citizen’s Academy grows out of our belief that we can enhance the excellent support we get from the community by giving Jefferson Parish residents even greater access to our thinking and access to the officers who are actually responsible for the safe streets of Jefferson Parish.

Classes at the Citizen’s Academy are taught by JPSO officers. Each officer who teaches a class draws up his or her own lesson plan addressing the priorities of their job. And, we are open to any questions that members of the Citizen’s Academy might choose to ask. Nothing is off the record or out of bounds. We answer all questions.

The Citizen’s Academy gives us a chance to explore many of the misconceptions that exist about law enforcement. In addition, it also gives a chance to explain the latest technological advances in law enforcement, from lap top computers in every patrol car to advances in the JPSO Crime Lab.

A primary function of the Citizen’s Academy is to explain to members of the community just what the JPSO’s responsibilities are and how we determine our objectives. Very often, the class discussions that result are the most interesting part of the program.

We are now in the midst of the 10th Citizen’s Academy class. We have discovered that it is very enlightening for us in law enforcement to engage in a frank, open dialogue with members of the community that we serve. The greatest strength of the JPSO, in my opinion is the support that we get from the community that we serve. I believe that support has only been enhanced by the JPSO Citizen’s Academy and the frank sharing of information about the JPSO with Jefferson Parish residents.

If you have not yet done so, you might enjoy visiting the JPSO website at JPSO.com. You will find information about the Citizen’s Academy in the Community Liaison section. You might want to apply for a place in a future Citizen’s Academy class. You would find it, I am sure, an enjoyable experience. We have lots to tell you and we would be glad to answer any questions you might have.


As A Community, We Must Try To Save
The Children Who Have Been Abandoned and Abused

Among the saddest stories in real life are those of little children under 12 who cannot be cared for by their birth parents. In many cases, these children have been abandoned and either physically or emotionally abused. These are often children who have never been loved.

Those of us in the criminal justice system every day see in our streets and in our jails the sad grown-ups that these abused children often become. They are the miserable adults who suffered early childhood trauma, exposure to illegal drugs and criminal activities as well as abusive and neglectful parenting. These adult offenders in many cases were never removed from their abusers, lacked educational and positive social influences and were drawn into lives of crime and violence.

Based on our experiences in the real world, those of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office find a special responsibility to help the children caught up in the juvenile justice system because their birth parents either didn’t want them or abused them. We are proud to be partners with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), the Juvenile Court judges, and the wonderful CASA volunteers. We have seen with our own eyes scores of instances where the help of these volunteers was instrumental in helping abandoned children find forever homes where they can benefit from a structured life, love, educational opportunities and an abundance of hope.

In my own experience, there is hardly anything more uplifting and encouraging than meeting young adults whose lives were forever changed by CASA volunteers. I especially remember a young man named Gary who had been moved from foster home to foster home until he felt that his life was a hopeless mess. But, with the help of a CASA volunteer and an understanding Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court Judge, Gary found a forever home. He became an honor student, graduating from Grace King High School, and now is in the military with the blessing of his loving adoptive parents.

We are proud members of the CASA Jefferson team, along with such outstanding people as Jefferson Parish President John Young, a host of New Orleans Saints players, volunteers from throughout the parish and some wonderful donors who help fund CASA Jefferson. All of us are working together to bring the abandoned children of the juvenile justice system to permanent homes where they can begin to have and achieve positive dreams.




Always Hoping For the Best,
While Preparing For the Worst


Officers of the JPSO SWAT Team recently worked with their SWAT Team colleagues from the Kenner Police Department, the Louisiana State Police and the FBI in a very realistic response to a simulated gang war at the Esplanade Shopping Mall in Kenner.

More than 100 la...w enforcement officers, along with East Jefferson General Hospital Emergency Medical Technicians. Mall security officers and the Kenner Fire Department participated in the drill. Also on hand were negotiators for the four SWAT teams who also participated in the scenario. As always, we in the law enforcement community are grateful to members of The Renegades, a troupe of professional actors from New Orleans and Baton Rouge who portrayed villains and victims.

The drill was very serious and very realistic with many “casualties” on both sides, as determined by paint ball projectiles. Some might wonder why all of these law enforcement officers would gather at the Esplanade for a SWAT Team drill. Our answer is that one need only recall a second line parade in New Orleans where rival gang members fired weapons, injuring innocent bystanders. Or, you might check the recent international headlines telling of a terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Kenya. Of course, we hope that nothing of this kind would ever happen in Jefferson Parish. But, in the same way that the management at the Esplanade Shopping Mall allows us to drill in their facility while hoping the real thing never is necessary, we too pray that nothing like this ever comes to our community but we prepare for the worst just in case it should happen.

As always, there are many people to thank. We always enjoy working with Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway who does an excellent job. Kenner Police Department Officer Ethan Hales did an outstanding job of coordinating a very complex training exercise. The Kenner SWAT Team, the FBI SWAT Team and the Louisiana State Police SWAT Team were, as usual, very professional and expert. We are also grateful to the Kenner Fire Department and the East Jefferson General Hospital EMS team who did their usual fine job. I am also always proud of the JPSO SWAT Team and negotiators, all of whom are volunteers who choose to do this work that can be very dangerous.

As is obvious, we take very seriously the job of protecting Jefferson Parish from criminal acts of any kind. We will continue to prepare for the worst while praying that these terrible calamities never come to our community.

We’re All Very Proud
Of The JPSO Young Marines
   

There are many reasons for all of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office to be proud of the JPSO Young Marines program. But I have to say that I was particularly moved when I learned that the JPSO Young Marines Color Guard made a surprise visit to the 80th birthday party of a proud U.S. Marine veteran.

I can only imagine what Mr. Carroll LeBlanc must have thought when the JPSO Young Marines Color Guard came marching down his street in Marrero carrying the flags of the United States, the U.S. Marine Corps, the State of Louisiana and the JPSO. It is certainly to his credit that he rose to his feet and snapped off a military salute that would have done him proud 60 years ago when he was a U.S. Marines sergeant.

You may not know that the JPSO Young Marines program is considered one of the best in the nation. It is open to boys and girls from ages 8 to 17. Since the JPSO adopted the program in 1995, more than a thousand Jefferson Parish boys and girls have graduated from Young Marines recruit training. Young Marines learn self-discipline, close order drill, physical fitness and academic excellence. They also learn to respect others and to stand up for the underdog. Young Marines take a vow not to use illegal drugs. In all the years of the JPSO Young Marines, less than one percent of the boys and girls in the program have gotten in trouble with the law. Virtually every Young Marine has improved his or her grades in school.  The money we spend on the Young Marine program has always been a good investment.  

Among the most important lessons that Young Marines learn is respect for others. They also learn that patriotism is very important and those who have served their country – like Mr. Carroll LeBlanc – are deserving of our admiration and respect.

I am very pleased that Ms. Vanessa Melancon – a 30-year JPSO employee who has worked as a dispatcher, a 911 operator and is now with the Pawn Shop Division – worked with JPSO Deputy Tammy Williams to make the arrangements for the JPSO Young Marines to perform at Mr. LeBlanc’s birthday party. Although the occasion was joyous, I am sure that the Young Marines in the Color Guard learned some valuable lessons about patriotism and commitment. I’m just sorry that I couldn’t have been there myself.


A Very Promising Class                               
Is Ready To Go To Work

As I watched the graduation ceremonies of our most recent JPSO recruit class unfold, I could not help but think of how fortunate we are in Jefferson Parish.

Our strong economy is the engine that drives the growth of South Louisiana. We have an excellent array of public, private and parochial schools that do a good job of educating our children and preparing them for adulthood. And, while we certainly have crime, our community is one of the safest of its size in the United States. As I watched the 24 graduates of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Training Academy move from their previous status as recruits to their new status of JPSO deputies, my thoughts turned to the reasons that the JPSO has been successful in the fight against crime.

For one thing, we have a tremendously experienced department. We have a solid core of police officers who are 15,20, 25, 30 and more than 30 year veterans. They obviously have remained in the JPSO because it is a good place to work and they enjoy the company of their colleagues. Secondly, we get tremendous support from the community we serve. I think that is so because we have been successful. In Jefferson Parish, if a citizen places an emergency call saying they need police help, they can be confident that within five minutes or less, there will be one or more police cars at their door with more on the way. Thanks to the support we have, the JPSO has been able to purchase the latest equipment and technology. I have often said that the edge law enforcement has in the fight against crime is technology.

And, finally, we have been able to recruit outstanding men and women who bring new blood, new enthusiasm and purpose into our organization. The 24 men and women in the recent graduating class had many choices in law enforcement agencies and they would have been welcomed anywhere, but they chose the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Credit also goes to the faculty at the JPSO Training Academy who always do an outstanding job of preparing our recruits to become police officers. I also give great credit to JPSO Director of Human Resources Rob Palermo and his staff who did an outstanding job of assembling this class. Some of the scores achieved in their tests by this group are the highest in the history of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. They are definitely ready to excel. I congratulate them and look forward to working with them.


The Educational Process Helps
Good Police Officers Become Even Better

At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office we believe in technology and education. We believe that technology is the edge that law enforcement has over criminals and that education is the learning process that helps good police officers improve their skills.

A good example of an excellent learning opportunity was the recent FBI School held at Camp Villere near Slidell. Each year, we send scores of JPSO officers to many different schools around the country and, often, we host schools at the JPSO Training Academy. In the case of the FBI School, we sent two outstanding officers, JPSO Deputy Johnny Ngai, Jr. and JPSO Deputy Lee Hardy to participate. The subject of the school was officer survival and the curriculum involved a variety of scenarios where officers learned to respond to extremely dangerous situations. Attending the school were FBI agents and officers from a variety of organizations, including the NOPD, the JPSO and the U.S. Marine Corps.

As it turned out, Deputy Ngai and Deputy Hardy proved to be excellent students and accomplished marksmen. Deputy Ngai qualified as the best shooter at the school and Deputy Hardy excelled in drills that required fast, accurate shooting. He hit the target more often than anyone else and he did it faster than any of the other students. While the awards are very nice and I’m glad for our deputies, I’m far more impressed by what they learned from the FBI instructors and will now be able to share that information with JPSO personnel.

Deputy Ngai, who is considered one of our best shooters, is an instructor on the firing range at the JPSO Training Academy and Deputy Hardy is a field training instructor in the JPSO Fourth District, working with young officers who have been assigned to the Patrol Division.

 As Deputy Ngai and Deputy Hardy would tell you, the best part of the FBI School for them was the opportunity to network with FBI personnel and their colleagues from other police departments. When we host a school at the JPSO Training Academy, we often invite federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to send some of their best officers to take part in the classes. From the day that we opened our state-of-the-art Training Academy, we have believed that we should share our facilities and our learning opportunities with other agencies. We are grateful to the FBI for the opportunity to send Deputy Ngai and Deputy Hardy to Camp Villere. We look forward to FBI agents joining us at future JPSO Schools at our Training Academy.


Graduates of JPSO Citizen’s Academy Class
Say It Was a Wonderful Experience

 The 49 community leaders who recently graduated from the 9th Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Citizen’s Academy say that it was an outstanding experience that taught them a lot about the JPSO, law enforcement and the community they live in.

The Citizen’s Academy is offered to the residents of Jefferson Parish to help them become better informed about law enforcement in their community, the financing and operations of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and how the JPSO serves the community during and after natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

 “I learned so much and changed many of my ideas about the JPSO and police work,” said Carlette Reeves, an office manager. “Perhaps the most important thing to me is how open Sheriff Normand and the officers about having members of the public ask them questions. They answered everything. I was also most impressed by their dedication and sincerity. Many of the officers we met are 30 and 40-year veterans of the JPSO. They clearly take great pride in what they do.”

 JPSO Deputy Chief Steve LaChute, who runs the Citizen’s Academy, says the 9th Citizen’s Academy was an outstanding class. “This was a group of well-informed Jefferson Parish citizens who had great questions and were super students,” he said.

 The JPSO Citizen’s Academy meets for eight weeks in a series of three-hour classes held at the JPSO Training Academy on the West Bank. That was also where the graduation ceremonies for the 9th Citizen’s Academy class were held.

 John and Jeanette Heine especially enjoyed going through the JPSO Citizen’s Academy together. They have lived on the West Bank for many years. He works at the Phillips 66 Refinery and she is an expert at custom drapery work. John marveled at what he saw when he was allowed to ride with the JPSO Patrol Division and hopes to get an opportunity to do it again. Jeannette says she’s changed many of the ideas she formed over the years about the JPSO and law enforcement. “The officers we met were just outstanding,” she said. “Many of the impressions that I had developed over a period of years were changed by the opportunity to actually talk to Sheriff Normand and the members of his team. These are wonderful men and women who have ethics and a total commitment to our community. If anyone were to ask me if I think they should sign up for a future JPSO Citizen’s Academy, I would tell them it will be one of the best civic experiences they will ever have.”


We Welcome the Participation of Jefferson Parish Clergy in JPSO Chaplain’s Program

 The dynamic expansion of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Chaplain’s Program is a tribute to JPSO Chaplain Kathy Radke and her colleagues.

 I have always been a strong advocate for the involvement of Chaplain’s in the work of law enforcement agencies. Like many others, I have personally witnessed the positive role that Chaplains have played in helping prison inmates turn their lives around from criminality to crime-free. And, of course, I know of many instances where law enforcement officers have greatly benefited from the prayers and counseling of clergy.

 For Rev. Radke and I, the most moving demonstration of the power of clergy to help in tense situations came after Hurricane Katrina. Many of our officers were separated from their families and were feeling oppressed by the inadequate facilities where they were living. In those and other similar circumstances, the availability of a clergy who was good at listening and articulate in his or her ability to shape a prayer that helped officers deal with moments of frustration and depression was a wonderful thing.

 Having seen this countless times, it certainly helped me recognize the potential of Rev. Radke’s concept of vastly expanding the number of Chaplains in the JPSO program. Then, I was especially pleased when we saw the positive response from all across Jefferson Parish as more than 70 clergy stepped forward to serve as part of our new Chaplain’s program.

 Now, thanks to Rev. Radke and her colleagues, we now have the services of excellent Chaplains on three fronts. The “Jail Chaplains” work with the inmates at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

 The “Law Enforcement” chaplains ride with, counsel with and pray with the JPSO officers whose work is absolutely crucial to the safe streets of Jefferson Parish. And, we now have “Correctional Chaplains” who works closely with the JPSO officers assigned to the Correctional Center.

 If you are a Jefferson Parish clergyman or woman and would like to participate in our Chaplain’s program, please call Rev. Radke at 374-7790. This is a wonderful program and we would like to add many more of Jefferson Parish’s outstanding clergy to its ranks.


JPSO Band of Excellence Performs Brilliantly
At Annual Spring Concert

 As it begins its fourth year, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Band of Excellence demonstrated that it has fully mastered the arduous task of making music beautifully with a superlative performance at its annual Spring Concert, held this year at East Jefferson High School.

 The concert was marked by standing ovations for two superb presentations. The first was a medley of American patriotic songs, arranged by BOE Director Hezekiah Brinson, Jr. and called “Lift Every Voice.” As the Spring Concert was celebrated during the Memorial Day Weekend, the salute to patriotism was especially meaningful as the audience – and nation – contemplated the sacrifices of those who have fallen to protect our liberties.

 The second standing ovation rewarded the Band of Excellence’s magnificent performance of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” – a 20-minute concerto that few would have thought that an orchestra made up mostly of middle and high school musicians could have presented so well.

 At the Spring Concert, the Band of Excellence was made up of 55 middle and high school students along with six BOE members who have graduated from high school but asked if they could come back to play in the Spring Concert. The performance was also lifted by the presence of Ronald Joseph, a New Orleans pianist who is a graduate of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and the Julliard School of Music. A long-time protégé of BOE Band Director Hezekiah Brinson, Jr., Joseph’s piano performance was itself worthy of a standing ovation.

“I’m already thinking about how we can advance and improve on our performance at our upcoming June 21 Summer Field Show,” said Brinson. “We’re flattered by all those who tell us that we were very good but we know that we can be even better. Our attitude is that we’ve got to keep working.”

After the performance, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand – who founded the Band of Excellence more than three years ago – presented certificates to all those who performed at the Spring Concert. Each performer also received a Band of Excellence T-shirt along with a photo taken with Sheriff Normand. There were also special awards for members of the JPSO Band of Excellence Booster Club presented by Renee Washington, administrator of the Band of Excellence.


St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church
Has Tremendous Turnout To Celebrate
Blue Mass Honoring Jefferson’s First Responders

 A standing-room-only crowd filled St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Metairie recently as the congregation and clergy celebrated a Blue Mass to honor Jefferson Parish’s first responders – law enforcement, emergency medical technicians and firefighters.

The Blue Mass is also sponsored by the church’s Knights of Columbus. JPSO Captain Alex Norman said this year’s turnout was among the best ever. “We had a tremendous turnout this year,” said Captain Norman, who is Commander of the JPSO Community Relations program. “The Knights of Columbus, the clergy, the church staff, volunteers and congregants were wonderful to us. I know that all the police officers, the EMS personnel and the firefighters were grateful.” Also on hand was Jefferson Parish President John Young.

The procession into the church of First Responders was led by the JPSO Honor Guard and the JPSO Young Marines Honor Guard. This was the first time that the JPSO Young Marines have participated in the Blue Mass. The Young Marines are an anti-drug, pro-academic studies organization that stresses physical fitness and respect for others. More than 1,000 Jefferson Parish boys and girls have graduated from the Young Marines’ program since 1995.

 The homily for the Blue Mass was delivered by Father John Talamo who is a JPSO Chaplain. Father Talamo, who often rides on patrols with JPSO officers, said, “I can tell you from personal experience that we in Jefferson Parish are blessed to have these wonderful men and women protecting us, our property and our children. There have been times when I have been present and have been certain that there was about to be violence and I along with the officers would surely be killed or badly injured. But, in every such instance, the JPSO officers have handled the situation correctly, professionally, with assurance and sensitivity. We are indeed blessed that so well-trained, well-led and responsible an organization looks out for us.”

 In his remarks, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand thanked the congregation and expressed his admiration for Jefferson’s EMS personnel and firefighters. He also introduced two other JPSO chaplains, Rev. Kathy Radtke and Pastor Dee Denne. On a table near the altar stood pictures of JPSO officers who over the years have given their lives in the line of duty and members of the Jefferson Parish Fire Department who have excelled and sacrificed their lives for the community.

 As the procession of Jefferson’s First Responders left the church, the congregation gave them a standing ovation. 


Another JPSO Citizen’s Academy Is Underway,
49 Jefferson Parish Residents Enrolled

Forty-nine Jefferson Parish residents are taking part in an eight-week Citizen’s Academy program designed by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office to show the participants how the JPSO operates while providing insights regarding policies, procedures and the challenges that go with keeping Jefferson safe.

The enrollees will attend a three-hour class each week for eight weeks. To graduate with their Citizen’s Academy class, the citizen-students must attend six of the eight classes. The classes are held at the JPSO Training Academy in Harvey and other JPSO facilities.

In his opening remarks to the Citizen’s Academy, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand told the participants that there are no questions that can’t be asked. He said that the JPSO prides itself on its transparency and welcomes all questions.

Sheriff Normand also said that the JPSO believes informed citizens enhance public safety and also make informed decisions for themselves and their families about how best to protect themselves and their businesses against criminals.

In order to enroll in a Citizen’s Academy, the participant must be at least 21 years of age with no serious criminal history, be a resident of Jefferson Parish and have demonstrated an interest in civic matters and the safety of the community. The current Citizen’s Academy is the ninth to be offered since Newell Normand became Sheriff in 2007.

JPSO Deputy Chief Steve LaChute, who is in charge of the Citizen’s Academy program, says the goal is to help interested citizens become well-informed about crime, the role of the JPSO in fighting crime and the logistical challenges that the JPSO must overcome so that Jefferson continues to be one of the safest communities of its size in the U.S. The participants in the Citizen’s Academy meet officers from each of the JPSO’s divisions and bureaus and hear at firsthand about the work of law enforcement officers. They also get to see the equipment used by the JPSO, as well as the state-of-the-art firing range, also located at the JPSO Training Academy.

Deputy Chief LaChute says, “We hope that the graduates of the Citizen’s Academy will take their new knowledge out into the community, educate others when the opportunity arises and help the voting public make good decisions about law enforcement and the safety of the citizens of Jefferson Parish.”


JPSO Project STAR Team Has Many Tasks to Perform,
Handles Them All Well

The men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Project STAR team have many responsibilities and take pride in doing each of their many jobs well.

For example, Project STAR officers regularly patrol 19 of Jefferson Parish’s highest-crime-volume neighborhoods. A Project STAR specialty is identifying street corner dope dealers and – just at the moment the dope dealers think they’ve gone unnoticed – arresting the dealers, seizing their guns, cash and narcotics as evidence.

Far less exciting but just as important from the standpoint of the criminal justice system is the work of the Project STAR team travelling to other jurisdictions to pick up individuals wanted in Jefferson who have been arrested in some other jurisdiction. In 2012, Project STAR officers returned 3,044 wanted persons to Jefferson Parish courts from other jurisdictions in Louisiana or other states.

The Project STAR team consists of a lieutenant, two sergeants, nine detectives, a clerk and eight reserve officers. Lieutenant William Hare, Commander of Project STAR, says, “We keep pretty busy around here. We like to recruit hard-working people for the Project STAR team.”

Another major assignment for the Project STAR team is working closely with Jefferson Parish Code Enforcement. When Code Enforcement does a sweep through a neighborhood, looking for violations of Jefferson Parish building codes and other quality-of-life offenses, they are accompanied by members of the Project STAR team.

Members of the Project STAR team also work closely with parish government in conducting background checks on persons applying for housing in Section 8 facilities. “Neither parish government nor the JPSO want career criminals setting up shop in Section 8 housing,” says Lieutenant Hare. “In Jefferson, when someone applies for Section 8 housing, Project STAR provides the background check to see if they have a criminal history.”

Project STAR officers also work closely with the JPSO SWAT Team. When the SWAT Team responds to a call, Project STAR officers are also there, helping set up a secure perimeter so the SWAT Team can concentrate on the task at hand.

Chief Deputy John Thevenot, who has overall command of Project STAR, says, “The role of Project STAR is constantly evolving. During the Super Bowl, they assisted the New Orleans Police Department. If we had a terrorist incident in Jefferson Parish, the Project STAR team would work closely with the Emergency Operations team at parish government. The reason we so often call on the Project STAR men and women is that they work hard and they seem to do very well at everything that is assigned to them.”                                            


JPSO Band of Excellence Earns A Series
Of Standing Ovations at Trinity Church

It looks as though the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Band of Excellence is going to make its fourth year an especially memorable one. In its first concert of 2013, the Band of Excellence won a series of standing ovations that very nearly shook the rafters at Trinity Church in Uptown New Orleans.

The occasion was the Trinity Church’s annual Bach Around The Clock festival that brings musicians and musical groups from around the community to play the music of Bach and other great composers. Some of the Metro area’s best musicians play at the Bach Around The Clock festivals. Besides the Band of Excellence, there were the Xavier University Brass Band, the New Orleans Saxophone Quartet, Delfeayo Marsalis on trombone; the Loyola Woodwind Virtuosi Choir, the Louisiana Philharmonic Chamber Players and the U.S. Navy Band Woodwind Quartet and Brass Quintet.

Although younger than all these other great musicians, the Band of Excellence more than held their own. Their performance of “A Prelude to Bach,” a very difficult and challenging piece, drew a standing ovation as did each of their other numbers. A special treat for the Band of Excellence is that they were accompanied by Trinity magnificent pipe organ.

“Many of our kids had never seen a pipe organ nor did they know until they heard what tremendous music it creates,” said Hezekiah Brinson, Jr., leader of the JPSO Band of Excellence. “Being the youngest, having a chance to meet all these great musicians, being accompanied by the organ and being honored by four standing ovations really made the BOE kids feel special.”

The JPSO Band of Excellence was created four years ago by Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand. An amateur drummer in his own right, Sheriff Normand believes there are literally thousands of children in Jefferson Parish who could be great musicians but lack instruction and instruments.

So Sheriff Normand raised more than $300,000, had a building constructed on the JPSO campus on the West Bank for the Band of Excellence and retained Hezekiah Brinson – well-known in local musical circles as a superb teacher – and backed him up with a staff of experienced music teachers.

In its first three years, the JPSO Band of Excellence has seen 26 of its members win music scholarships from university marching bands. “I think we are bringing Sheriff Normand’s dream to fulfillment,” says Brinson. “This year, we had ten applicants for the band who have never played music before. Sheriff Normand allowed us to retain another excellent music teacher and those kids are making wonderful progress.”

The Band of Excellence is open to middle school and high school students from Jefferson and Orleans Parishes.


Business Community Shows Tremendous Support
For Crimestoppers Program, Fight Against Crime

More than 800 civic and business leaders along with law enforcement officials filled the ballroom at the New Orleans Hilton Hotel recently, showing support for the Crimestoppers program that has produced a vast array of anonymous tips over the years that have led to thousands of arrests and convictions.

“All of us at Crimestoppers are proud to be part of the fight against crime that in 2012 showed major reductions in crime in both New Orleans and Jefferson Parish,” said Darlene Cusanza, Executive Director of Crimestoppers. Crimestoppers is a non-profit organization that pays rewards for anonymous tips that lead to arrests in the fight against violent crime in the Metro area. Crimestoppers works closely with law enforcement agencies.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand served as emcee of the Crimestoppers luncheon. He praised Cusanza and her staff for their outstanding work. Sheriff Normand was also pleased when the Crimestoppers Award of Excellence was presented to the JPSO Crime Lab. The award cited the superb lab work that led to arrests in the cases of a woman murdered while jogging in Lafreniere Park and helped solve a multiple murder whose victims included a 23-month-old child. JPSO Colonel Tim Scanlon, Commander of the Crime Lab, accepted the award along with members of his staff.

“We are proud to work closely with the men and women of the JPSO,” said Cusanza. “All of us at Crimestoppers were delighted when it was announced that violent crime in Jefferson Parish is now at the lowest levels since 1974. In 2012, Crimestoppers tips helped solve 36 major crimes committed in Jefferson Parish and led to 41 arrests. Already in 2013, a Crimestoppers tip has led the arrests of two suspects and the seizure of $4,000 in illegal drugs as well as two guns.”

Also honored at the luncheon was former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten for his life’s work in the fight against crime and corruption. The Crimestoppers’ Award of Valor was presented to New Orleans Police Officer John Passaro for his bravery in a shootout that left him wounded and facing a long recovery.

Crimestoppers also presented four bulletproof vests to the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office in honor of deputies killed and wounded in a shootout with a gang of outlaws.

“What we have demonstrated today is our unity and determination in the fight against crime anywhere in our metro area,” said Cusanza. “I think everyone is aware that we are all in this together and we need to support all of our law enforcement agencies and officers.”

Funds raised at the luncheon will be used to pay Crimestoppers rewards for anonymous tips that lead to arrests and help solve violent crimes. Anyone wishing to contribute to Crimestoppers can call 837-8477.


JPSO Training Academy Is a Resource We’re Glad to Share

We constantly remind officers just beginning their careers with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office how fortunate we are to work in a community that places law enforcement and safe streets as one of its highest priorities.

There is no better example of that than the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Training Academy located on the West Bank. The Training Academy includes a gymnasium and a state-of-the-art indoor firing range.

All of that was very much on my mind recently as we played host to Avinoam Sapir, considered one of the world’s top analysts of victim and witness statements. Why, you might wonder, would anyone need to analyze the statements of victims and witnesses? Aren’t they on the same side as the police? Don’t the victims and witnesses want to see the criminals convicted? The answer to all these questions is yes but there is more to it than that. Very often, victims and witnesses to crime have their own personal agendas. The statements they give police might omit some things and distort others for their own purposes. The point is that a police officer cannot accept a statement without analyzing it because it may not be the whole, complete truth.

And, finding the truth is the specialty of Mr. Sapir who many think is one of the world’s foremost experts at statement analysis. So, when Mr. Sapir agreed recently to come to the JPSO Training Academy for a five-day seminar, it was not a surprise that that the Louisiana State Police, the New Orleans Police Department and the Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said they would like to send some of their best detectives to join our JPSO detectives at Mr. Sapir’s seminar. But, it was a little bit of a surprise when a British law enforcement agency said they would like to send one of their key operatives to the seminar – a 6,000-mile round trip.

But, the British told us, they consider Mr. Sapir probably the best in the world at teaching statement analysis and there was no telling when he would be in Great Britain. So they would send Roy Sinclair, the tactical coordinator for kidnap and extortion cases, to Jefferson Parish to spend five days with us and with Mr. Sapir.

I am happy to report that all went well and Mr. Sinclair left us convinced that Mr. Sapir is indeed probably the best in the world at teaching the principles of statement analysis. We think so too. It also seems to us that the JPSO Training Academy, with all the latest audio-visual bells and whistles to accommodate a demanding teacher like Mr. Sapir, serves its most vital purpose when we open the doors to other law enforcement agencies who want to avail their personnel of the best teaching and learning opportunities. We regard our Training Academy as a resource to be shared with others.

Mr. Sapir says he looks forward to returning soon to Jefferson Parish and we look forward to hosting him again.

       
         

JPSO Young Marines Enjoy the Ovations
As They March in Mardi Gras Parades

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines are enjoying moments of stardom as they march in Jefferson Parish Mardi Gras parades and are lavishly applauded by parade goers who are impressed by their precision and enthusiasm.

By the time Mardi Gras ends, the JPSO Young Marines will have marched in five parades – Little Rascals, Alla, Adonis, Isis and Argus on Mardi Gras Day. Leading the Young Marines’ marching formation is JPSO Young Marines Sergeant Major Joshua Aikman, 17, a student at the New Orleans Military Academy. Sergeant Major Aikman, who joined the Young Marines as an eight-year-old, says his experience as a Young Marine has been a formative influence on his life as he prepares for college.

Following YM Sergeant Major Aikman is the Young Marines’ Color Guard, carrying the American flag, the Louisiana flag and the Jefferson Parish flag. Behind them is a banner identifying the group as the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines. Between 40 and 60 Young Marines turn out to march in the parades. Also part of the parade are adult supervisors, including almost a dozen parents of Young Marines who have volunteered to accompany the group throughout the five-mile parade route.

The Young Marines, founded here in 1995 by the late Sheriff Harry Lee, is open to boys and girls between the ages of eight and 17. The group is opposed to drug use and is a proponent of treating others with respect, honesty, patriotism, academic excellence, self-awareness and self-discipline. Young Marines excel at drill team marching and physical fitness, which is why a five-mile march is just a pleasant stroll for them.

JPSO Sergeant Bill Jones is commander of the Young Marines program. His assistants include JPSO Deputy Tammy Howard, senior instructor for the Young Marines program, and JPSO Deputy Joe DiLeo, a Young Marines instructor.

“The crowd response to the sight of the JPSO Young Marines is just wonderful,” says Deputy Howard. “When folks see the practiced precision with which these young boys and girls march, they start applauding and in a moment, it’s a huge ovation. The kids love it, of course. Also, every time we march in a parade we get 100 or so requests for more information about the JPSO Young Marines program.”


The Best Recruiting Pitch for JPSO Reserves
Is When Prospective Recruits See For Themselves
The Great Job Our Reserves Do

You really have to see the JPSO Reserve officers in action to appreciate how professional, well-trained and completely competent they are.

The JPSO Reserves can be seen during Jefferson Parish’s Mardi Gras celebration along the East Bank parade route doing an outstanding job of crowd control. In fact, for the most part it is a very subtle form of cooperative crowd control. There is a lot of good-natured banter and laughter between the officers and the crowd. The officers remind folks about the important safety rules of Mardi Gras – be very careful where you place your ladder, don’t let the kids run between floats, don’t dash out in the street to pick up throws lying on the ground, no glass bottles on the parade route, etc.  I call it cooperative crowd control because in Jefferson Parish, most of the people in the crowd are just as anxious as the officers to be sure that everyone stays safe and has a good time.

There was a time some years ago when some parade-goers acted like hooligans – drunk and disruptive, interfering with the fun of others and getting in fights. But the JPSO Reserve officers made it clear from the start that kind of behavior was not acceptable at Jefferson Parish’s family-oriented Carnival. Today, disruptive behavior, when it occurs, is such a rarity that it’s almost startling. Everyone seems to understand that bad behavior isn’t acceptable along the Jefferson Parish parade route.

While the JPSO Reserve Officers are most visible during Mardi Gras, they are hard at work all year long. We assign them the same duties as those performed by the JPSO regulars. Our Reserves receive the same training and the same equipment as the Regulars. In fact, we are planning to start a new Recruit Training Class for Reserve Officers at the JPSO Training Academy. I honestly believe that being a Reserve Officer in the JPSO is one of the most fulfilling and satisfying things that a citizen can do. To learn more about the requirements to apply for a position with the JPSO Reserves and what is expected of our Reserves, please call the JPSO Personnel Department for more information. If you decide to join our ranks, I feel certain you’ll conclude it was one of the best decisions of your life.


From A JPSO Point of View,
What We Really Want Is A Safe Super Bowl

It’s a real honor to be asked by the FBI to join with them in handling security arrangements for what we think will be the biggest Super Bowl in history. While we’re hoping for a good, close game what really matters to us is that when it’s over, we’ll be able to say this was the safest Super Bowl in the history of the game

I am quite sure that when the first Super Bowl was played in 1967 before less than a capacity crowd, there was nothing like the array of bomb technicians, bomb disposal robots, bomb disposal special trucks, K-9 dogs and handlers that will be present at the Louisiana Superdome this year. As the game has grown and the world has changed, not necessarily for the better, security concerns have become an inherent part of the preparations for the game.

The Super Bowl is not the first time that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the FBI have worked closely together. We have worked together many times before and have an excellent relationship. Because we have responsibilities for security at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and are located in close proximity to many other installations that could be a target for terrorists, we are especially well-equipped for the occasion. Our bomb disposal robot represents the best available technology. Our JPSO bomb technicians have been to the best schools that deal with explosives. Our K-9 dogs and their handlers are very experienced and the dogs have been trained to expertly sniff for explosives. By the way, it’s interesting to note that like many other law enforcement agencies, we are beginning to incorporate Belgian Malinois’ into our K-9 corps. Like everyone else, we have always used German Shepherds, but the Belgian Malinois is an excellent dog for K-9 purposes and will undoubtedly play an ever larger role in the business of security.

It doesn’t bother us in the least that there is no recognition or applause for those who handle the security arrangements at big events like the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras. That’s okay with us. We just want to do our job and, after the event is over, breathe a sigh of relief that nothing went wrong and everyone went home safely. And, if it matters to you, we hope your favorite team wins.


We’re Pleased To Welcome Other Law Enforcement Agencies
To JPSO Training Academy

It was a pleasure to welcome Captain Alan Keller of the Germantown, Tennessee Police Department and other faculty members of a week-long conference on the dangers and complexities of closing the net on big-time drug dealers and arresting them.

This is a subject of great concern to us. Because of its proximity to I-10 and other interstate highways, Jefferson Parish lies directly in the path of the route often used to move illegal drugs from Texas to Atlanta and the Northeast. We are very proud of the fact that our JPSO Narcotics Division has made some of the largest seizures of illegal drugs, money, cars and weapons as well as arrests of drug dealers that have led to long prison sentences. At the same time, our success has constantly reminded us that the pursuit of drug dealers is a dangerous business that requires the most detailed planning and execution. We were especially pleased to serve as the host to Captain Keller’s seminar and of the 35 officers in attendance, 14 were from JPSO.

Captain Keller was very gracious in his praise of our JPSO Training Academy. It was designed and built from the ground up with the consultation of JPSO police officers who had a very clear idea of what was needed for the development of our programs and skills. Like many others, Captain Keller had words of praise for our state-of-the-art firing range and our “shoot house” where JPSO officers work on tactics that are needed when a chase leads into a closed-in building. The firing range reminds those of us who are old-timers of the days when the JPSO didn’t have a firing range and had to borrow the use of an outdoor range that was always susceptible to changes in the weather. As Captain Keller noted, our indoor firing range allows our faculty to set up various situations to help officers improve their accuracy when gunfire is unavoidable.

From the very beginning, the Patrick F. Taylor Training Academy has been available to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for use. We are pleased that Captain Keller and his colleagues were able to bring their conference to our facility and they are welcome in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana anytime they wish to return.


A Crime-Fighting Partnership That Brings Together
The JPSO, DA’s Office and the Community

Everyone in Jefferson Parish deserves a pat on the back for our crime-fighting record in 2012. The only ones who aren’t pleased by the five percent reduction in major crimes are the criminals. Their unhappiness only makes our shared pleasure all the greater.

I have maintained from the moment that I took the oath of office as Sheriff of Jefferson Parish that we can only be successful as crime-fighters if everyone buys into it. This is what I call a holistic approach to law enforcement. It isn’t just the Sheriff’s responsibility to fight crime. It takes the entire village.

As you may know, we now are in the third year of a major project begun by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office – the creation and development of the Band of Excellence. This year, we have more than 160 boys and girls from throughout Jefferson Parish playing in the band. If you’ve heard them perform, you know they are an excellent musical aggregation. I think the band members will tell you that they’ve learned a lot from Band Director Hezikiah Brinson and his staff. More than 20 of these boys and girls have earned university marching band scholarships with still more being considered for scholarships. But I can also tell that I’ve learned a lot from the boys and girls who have joined the Band of Excellence and their experiences have given me much to think about.

On several occasions, we have seen boys and girls, through no fault of their own, almost literally dumped on the street – no place to sleep, nothing to eat with neither a mother nor father available to tuck them in, make sure they’re alright, or find out what they’re thinking. Of course, a child alone in the world without adult guidance or a parent’s love is likely to find themselves in trouble with the law.

Fortunately, at the Band of Excellence, we have been able to respond to these situations with the help of Jefferson Parish clergy and Jefferson Parish families. Why, you might ask, would a Jefferson Parish family throw open their home to a homeless child that they scarcely know? The answer is simple – because we’re all in this together. It does take a village to raise a child who will graduate from high school, earn a university music scholarship and become a good citizen.

So, I’m proud on two counts. I’m proud of our law enforcement team that has done such a great job of fighting crime. Because of their work, Jefferson Parish is a great place to live, work and raise a family. But I’m also proud of the Jefferson Parish residents who donate to the Food Bank, who take an interest in children that don’t have good situations at home and who understand that law enforcement is only a single facet of making our community a wonderful place to live.


CASA Jefferson Program Makes A Huge Difference
In The Lives of Troubled Children

There are many things to love about Jefferson Parish but none touch my heart more than the care that people here exhibit for those who are apparently down and out, facing the longest odds against having successful lives.

There is no better example of children facing horrendous long odds than the pre-adolescent wards of the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court who have been physically or sexually abused, or both.

What are the chances that a six or seven year-old abused child will have a successful childhood, graduate from high school, go on to college, get a job, have a family? Based on my 30 years in law enforcement, I would the chances for a positive outcome is pretty slim. And, yet, somehow, almost miraculously, the Juvenile Court judges, working with the volunteers from the Jefferson CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) each year take these seemingly hopeless cases and completely change the outlook to a positive one by finding placements for these children in loving, supportive homes.

I can tell you that it is truly amazing how much a child can overcome when supported by loving, caring parents. And, my colleagues at the JPSO have seen dozens of cases where the work of CASA volunteers has made a tremendous and positive difference.

Where do these CASA volunteers come from? They are people just like you and me, Jefferson Parish residents who are willing to become involved in helping badly hurt children find a positive path that will lead them to a good life.

Typical of these incredible CASA volunteers is Michael Hackett, a retired university executive who resides in Metairie. He is a long-time CASA volunteer, as is his wife. Michael has had extraordinary success in helping place troubled children in loving homes where they have an excellent chance for a good life. Michael has been cited by the New Orleans Saints and by Blue Cross/Blue Shield for his outstanding efforts. I think he deserves a community-wide standing ovation.

Today, there are more than 100 CASA volunteers devoting their time to making sure that troubled children have the best chance for happy, successful lives. I don’t know of a better cause than this and hope you will join with me in finding ways that we can support the Jefferson CASA program as it works to make children’s lives much better.


Thanks To Crimestoppers For All the Good Work They Do,
And Thanks to the Volunteers Who Help Make Crimestoppers So Effective

Crimestoppers is one of the most effective, well-run non-profit organizations in our region.

They operate with a small paid staff backed by hundreds of volunteers who serve on the board, organize fund-raising events and help in any way that they can.

Those of us who work in law enforcement could not do without Crimestoppers. All too often, the first break in solving a violent crime comes in the form of an anonymous tip from someone who wants to remain in the shadows but is willing to give the police information in exchange for a reward.

That’s the way the system often works. And Crimestoppers is the intermediary between the police and the informant. It is Crimestoppers who collects the information and pays the reward if the tip proves to be essential for identifying the responsible criminals, justifying an arrest and eventually a conviction.

Now, in actuality, few of the 500 folks who participated in the December race put on by Crimestoppers to help them raise the $120,000 they’ll need for reward money in 2013 are fully aware of exactly how the system works. But they don’t need to know. It’s sufficient that they are aware that Crimestoppers is a crucial asset to the police forces in the metro area in the fight against violent crime.

For almost three decades, Crimestoppers has been an effective tool for law enforcement. We think so highly of Crimestoppers at the JPSO that we are glad to provide their office space. JPSO Lieutenant Bruce Harrison, Commander of the Robbery Division, works constantly with Crimestoppers and shares my belief that Crimestoppers, along with its volunteers, is one of the best assets that law enforcement has.

 I certainly know there are many excellent non-profit organizations in our community, the region and the nation asking each of us for whatever financial support we can manage. But I don’t know of any other organization that directly helps the police in our metro area solve the most violent and heinous crimes in the way that Crimestoppers does. When you plan your budget for giving to non-profit organizations in 2013, I hope you will include Crimestoppers on your list. I can assure you that Crimestoppers plays an important and vital role in the fight against crime and the effort to keep Jefferson Parish one of the safest communities of its size in the nation.


JPSO Band of Excellence Has Exceeded Our Highest Hopes

Three years ago I took the step of raising the funds to underwrite the costs of a full-scale band that would seek to recruit musically-talented boys and girls from throughout Jefferson Parish. Today, any of the more than 250 spectators at JPSO Band of Excellence Christmas Concert would tell you that the investment of money and time has produced a stupendous success.

 I was moved to found the Band of Excellence because, as an amateur but willing musician myself, I know that the dynamic of music inspires self-confidence, self-discipline, personal organization and a realization that it takes many talented people to make up an orchestra.

 All of that was on display at the Christmas Concert. As the spectators listened to the Band of Excellence perform, I think many of them were aware that in the first two years of its existence the BOE has seen 24 boys and girls win scholarships to perform in university marching bands and that more than 15 boys and girls in the current band have either been offered scholarships or are under consideration for an offer.

 But even more than that, the boys and girls in the BOE have become brothers and sisters who help, encourage and lift up one another. For me, that is truly the best part. Much of the credit goes to Hezekiah Brinson, Jr., the band director who has done a superlative job. Many of the members of the band refer to him as their “second father.”  He has truly become a second father to these boys and girls. He, along with his excellent staff and volunteers, has become intimately involved in the lives of the boys and girls in the Band of Excellence. In several instances, Mr. Brinson and others have been responsive to the needs of boys and girls who, through no fault of their own, found themselves homeless. With the help of many, including Jefferson Parish clergy, we have been able to make sure that every one of our band members has a home to go to at night, a place where dinner and caring are waiting for them.

 Looking back on it, I think that my role in starting the JPSO Band of Excellence is one of the best things that I’ve ever done. It has developed its own momentum, thanks to many others, and has vastly exceeded my hopes for it.


Thanks To Everyone Who Participated In Preparation,
Delivery Of 1,800 Thanksgiving Baskets for Those In Need

 I really don’t know if I have the words to express my admiration and appreciation to all those who helped fill and deliver 1,800 Thanksgiving baskets that went to Jefferson Parish’s most needy families.

I am incredibly proud of the men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office who played a role in the preparation and delivery of the baskets. They are volunteers who spent their time working on Thanksgiving baskets because they have big hearts and wanted to do something to help those who have very little and would not have had a Thanksgiving at all but for the efforts of our employees and our partners.

I cannot say enough about our partners. Let’s begin with the anonymous donor who has been funding Thanksgiving baskets for the needy since 1995. He comes up with $100,000 every year and, if you do the arithmetic, you’ll see that he has given more than $1 million over the years to make sure that even the neediest families in Jefferson get a huge basket of Thanksgiving goodies, enough to provide meals for several days.

Then, I want to applaud our partners from Valero Oil Company who are incredibly efficient, effective and enthusiastic about working with us. A crew from Valero came out to the Second Harvest facilities in Elmwood and filled all 1,800 Thanksgiving baskets to the brim. And, we could not have done all of this without the efforts of our friends at the Second Harvest Food Bank. They are wonderfully cooperative and encouraging. Finally, thanks to the churches of Jefferson Parish who helped us identify truly needy families that faced a bleak Thanksgiving without the delicious baskets of food, including some of the plumpest turkeys any of us have seen.

When you put together our generous anonymous donor, the JPSO, Valero Oil, Second Harvest and the churches, you have a winning team with a lot of compassion for those who are less fortunate.

I especially want to thank the JPSO team, especially Captain Danny Blanchard, Detective Wayne Hines, Sergeant David Green and Detective Kevin Rogers. More than 50 JPSO men and women contributed to the success of this project. All of them are deserving of our applause and commendations. Thank you, one and all.  


Congratulations, Young Marines,
You Have Become Part of A Great Tradition

There are very few events in this world as happy, uplifting and cheerful as a JPSO Young Marines graduation.

We recently celebrated a Young Marines graduation at the Alario Center and everyone was smiling – the Young Marines, their instructors, their parents, families, guests and friends. For these boys and girls, who have successfully made their way through 12 weekends of training, hardly anything could be as satisfying as becoming a Young Marine.

And no Young Marine graduation would be complete without at least one parent coming up to me and asking, “What happened to the kid that I sent you? And, who is this kid you sent back to me – he’s the first one up every morning, he does his homework without being asked, he’s polite, he’s nice to his brothers and sisters, his grades have improved, he treats others with respect and he’s thinking about going to college after graduating from high school.”

With variations, some version of that expression of joy has been part of every JPSO Young Marines graduation since 1995. In that time, more than 1,000 boys and girls have graduated from the Young Marines training program. Today, some 18 years after we started the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines program, we know of Young Marines in law school, in college, in military service and holding down jobs in the Jefferson Parish economy. In all these years, less than one percent of Young Marines graduates have gotten in trouble with the law. I can tell you from having watched Young Marines from the very beginning that for a boy or girl, becoming a Young Marine is life-changing and transformative.

Now, to be honest, the Young Marines program is not for everyone. There are boys and girls who really aren’t interested in the kind of hard work, focus and dedication that it takes to become a Young Marine. But for those who are attracted to it, becoming a Young Marine is a journey filled with positive lessons. I think the Young Marines program is so successful because it fills boys and girls with a deeply-felt sense of pride and because it makes them part of a team whose members enjoy each other and their achievements.

If you would like more information about the Young Marines program, you can call my office at 363-5701. We’re very proud of our Young Marines and will be starting another recruit class, probably in early 2013.


Walk or Run in the Big Crimestoppers Race
And Help The Police Arrest Criminals

If you are one of the thousands from our Metro area who walks, runs or volunteers to help in the big Crimestoppers race in City Park on Sunday, Dec. 9 there is a direct link between your participation and our arrests of criminals, including some who we refer to as “the worst of the worst.”

The annual race in City Park is one of the major fundraising tools that underwrite the Crimestoppers fund that pays off persons communicating anonymous tips that lead to arrests by police in our Metro area and convictions by prosecutors.

As someone who enjoys watching efficient operations, I can tell you that one of the pleasures of life is watching the men and women of the Commercial Investment Division (CID) of the New Orleans Metropolitan Realtors Association work with the staff of Crimestoppers to put together a huge event that will bring thousands of walkers and runners to City Park for an excellent cause. One of the officers at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office who works most closely with Crimestoppers is Lieutenant Bruce Harrison, Commander of the Robbery Division. Lieutenant Harrison says that each year, without fail, major felonies that leave few clues are solved because someone who knows something and wants a monetary reward anonymously calls Crimestoppers. Sometimes the person giving us the tip is himself a criminal double-crossing other criminals because he wants the reward money and revenge for some slight or injury.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas and I will both tell you that when you help Crimestoppers, you help us. Now, I know from experience that the annual Crimestoppers race is one terrific party. There’s a lot of laughter. The food and music after the race are terrific. The police departments will compete to see who is the fastest. But that’s just the fun side of it. The serious side is that the money raised is used to pay for the tips that help us solve crimes and help the excellent prosecutors in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish get convictions of people that we need to get off our streets.

So, please, give generously to Crimestoppers. They are a wonderful organization that contributes directly to the safe streets of our community. Please join me in applauding the CID of the Realtors Association for their great work in facilitating this event. This is a special opportunity to have a good time and contribute to the constant and unending fight against crime.  


At the JPSO, Heartwalk Is A Lot of Fun
But There Are Very Serious Overtones

 I really missed walking with the JPSO family at Heartwalk this year. It is one of my favorite events for many different reasons. I consider myself a strong supporter of the American Heart Association and the cause of heart research.

 Of course, it is typical of our JPSO family that we have taken this very serious case and melded it with South Louisiana fun and innovation. Some of the best home-cooked meals that any of us have ever eaten are cooked to raise money for Heartwalk. I think every JPSO department and division has at least one and often, several fundraisers to raise money for Heartwalk and the American Heart Association.

 And why, you might ask, should the Heartwalk and the American Heart Association be one of the favorite causes supported by the men and women of the JPSO.

 I think it’s because there is hardly a JPSO family that has not had the experience of a loved one suffering a heart attack or heart-related illness. All too often, these heart-related ailments have resulted in death or a prolonged illness that has saddened the entire family.

 So, each year, months before the Heartwalk, the divisions and departments of the JPSO start planning how they’re going to raise money for the cause. Some of the more creative members of the JPSO family create baskets – often with New Orleans Saints themes – to be raffled off. It’s all a lot of fun but with very serious overtones. If you’ve lost a relative to a heart-related illness, it’s easy to get fired up to help raise money for the Heart Association and the cause of heart research.

 This year, I’m especially sorry that I couldn’t there in Audubon Park to see the JPSO Young Marines take part in the Heartwalk in larger numbers than ever before. We take great pride in the JPSO Young Marines and we try our best to teach them important lessons about life, like respect for others, self-discipline, no drugs and applying yourself in the classroom. But we also teach the JPSO Young Marines about the importance of giving back to your community, through participation in activities like the Heartwalk. It certainly seems that they’ve taken that important lesson to heart and we look forward to the increased participation of the JPSO Young Marines in the Heartwalk each year from now on.          


Thank You For Helping Us Make JPSO Day At The Park
Such A Great Event

 I am very pleased at the way that the annual JPSO Day At The Park has grown as an event. Each year, the crowd seems to be larger than the year before. It was unfortunate that this year, we had to postpone the Day At The Park for week because of the threat of heavy rains but the turnout was still excellent.

 I’m very proud too of the innovative and imaginative ways that the men and women of the JPSO figure out each year to illustrate the work that they do and how it serves the public. This year, I thought the exhibits were the best we’ve ever presented.

 But what pleased me the most this year was the time that I and other members of the JPSO team had to talk in a personal way to Jefferson Parish residents about the status of the continuing fight that we wage everyday against crime.

 As you may know, the level of crime in unincorporated Jefferson Parish is at its lowest level since 1974 and, as of September, 2012, the volume of crime in the parish is down two percent compared to 2011. We are pleased too that the number of homicides thus far in 2012 is down by nearly a third compared to 2011. At the same time, I want to acknowledge that the drop in homicides may not be directly related to the work of the JPSO except in that – working with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office – we have combined to remove some really bad people from the streets of Jefferson Parish. They are serving long sentences in prison for a wide variety of crimes and their absence from our community has definitely made an impact.

 The larger point that I was able to make in my conversations at the Day At The Park celebration is that we are incredibly grateful and mindful that our success grows directly out of the support that we get from the residents and taxpayers of Jefferson Parish. With your help and support, we have been able to fund training programs that have helped our officers become more proficient and buy the latest technology in the fight against crime. As I have said on many occasions, technology is the edge that law enforcement has against criminals. For budgetary reasons, we will never be able to put a police officer on every corner but we can give every police officer the equipment and support – such as a great JPSO Crime Lab – that he or she needs to identify those guilty of a crime and make an arrest that will lead to a conviction.

 If you came out to join us for JPSO Day At The Park, thank you for your support. If you didn’t make it this year, I hope you’ll put this great event on your calendar for next year. Please bring your kids. They’ll have a great time.


At the JPSO, We’ve Put Together A Terrific Team

The story of Colonel Maggie Pernia’s 32 years at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office encompasses many different changes at the JPSO and in the community that we serve.

Colonel Pernia is one of the small band of pioneers who were the first women to demonstrate that they belonged in law enforcement and could build accomplished careers that matched anything that anyone else had achieved.

After establishing that she had the necessary qualifications, determination and aspiration to be an outstanding police officer, Colonel Pernia had a chance to work in a field of law enforcement that was just evolving – crimes of personal violence. These included assaults, sexual abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse and the abuse of senior citizens. For many years and in many families, these crimes were considered private matters not to be reported to authorities or discussed with strangers. But, times were changing. Tremendous pressures were building within society that argued that far from being private matters, crimes of personal violence were unacceptable, needed to be reported and needed to be prosecuted by district attorneys working with police departments.

Colonel Pernia became one of a handful of police officers in the forefront of a movement that argued that crimes committed within the family structure needed to be fully investigated and, if warranted, concluded with arrests and prosecutions.

At the same time that Colonel Pernia was becoming an authority on crimes of personal violence, important changes were also taking place within the law enforcement community and, especially, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

At the JPSO, we were becoming advocates of the theory that technology is the edge that law enforcement has in the fight against crime. There will never be enough police to station an officer on every corner, but if we maximize our training, our equipment and the potential of our people, we can effectively fight crime and reduce its volume.

Colonel Pernia bought into that theory and, as she moved up through the ranks, surrounded herself with outstanding police officers who shared the philosophy that she and others espoused. Today, reporting to Colonel Pernia are three outstanding, well-educated and knowledgeable police officers with more than 100 years’ experience between them.

At the JPSO, we are all very proud that as of September, crime has been reduced in unincorporated Jefferson Parish by two percent compared to 2011. Overall, crime in Jefferson is at the lowest levels since 1974. How did that happen? It is a story of teamwork, excellent recruiting, training and the development of technological skills. Put more simply, it is a story of smart, dedicated people at the JPSO who are enormously prideful and determined to make sure that Jefferson Parish remains one of the safest communities of its size in the U.S.


Please Support Crimestoppers

One of the best things that happened in 1981 in the Metro New Orleans area was the founding of Crimestoppers, the non—profit agency which pays rewards for anonymous tips that lead to the solution of violent crimes.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas and I will tell that many times each year, the NOPD and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office find themselves investigating crimes for which there is no obvious motive and no clues as to the perpetrators. On these occasions, as our detectives begin the laborious task of trying to find clues that identify the perpetrators and their motive for the crime, we hope that the phones at Crimestoppers with a tip that puts our investigators on the right trail.

Fortunately, the Crimestoppers phone frequently rings and, often, the anonymous tip we receive from Crimestoppers moves the investigation into high gear, leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the crime and the construction of a solid case that the District Attorney in either New Orleans or Jefferson Parish can use to get a conviction.

Because Crimestoppers is such an integral part of the law enforcement mechanism, I am asking you to please join me in supporting Crimestoppers. Last year, tips received by Crimestoppers from anonymous sources led to the solution of more than 400 violent crimes in Metro New Orleans. And, last year, Crimestoppers paid out more than $120,000 to persons whose tips helped us solve those crimes.

Each year, Chief Serpas and I ask the business and civic communities in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish to dig deep to help fund Crimestoppers. We could not do what we do to protect our respective communities if we did not have the assistance of Crimestoppers.

This year, the Crimestoppers’ annual Carnivale will be held Saturday, November 10 on the Mississippi River at the East Bank den of Mardi Gras World. It will be a beautiful setting for a party that supports a very good cause. I understand that this year the raffle will include nine dream vacations that will never be forgotten by those who are fortunate enough to win them. While that is certainly important, what is really crucial is providing the financial support that Crimestoppers needs to continue funding those anonymous tipsters whose information helps the NOPD and the JPSO solve some of the worst, most appalling crimes that occur in our region.

In supporting Crimestoppers, we also support the fight against crime in our metro area. 


National Night Out Against Crime A Great Success in Jefferson,br /> A Moment To Celebrate Lowest Volume of Crime Since 1974

I had the pleasure of attending eight National Night Out Against Crime parties in Jefferson Parish on the evening of October 16, on both the East and West Banks.

The parties were tremendous. The turnout was fantastic. And, typical of our culture, the parties were festive and fun. Hundreds of people contributed homemade dishes to the festivities. Many of the parties featured bands and, everywhere, there was plenty for the kids to do.

I was joined in visiting National Night Out parties by 70 other JPSO officers. We take National Night Out very seriously. It is an evening when the community comes out to have a good time and enjoy each other’s company but also to remind ourselves that we need to share information with our neighbors so we can look out for each other more effectively.

At the same time, I had some very good news to report that was greeted by applause and congratulations wherever I went.  As of September 2012, compared to September 2011, crime in the seven categories recognized by the FBI is down 2 percent in unincorporated Jefferson Parish and that, overall, the volume of crime in Jefferson is at its lowest level since 1974. That is an incredible record and the 1,500 men and women of the JPSO join me in a great sense of pride. However, we also know that while we have lots of pride, we can’t ever become smug or imagine that we’ve solved the crime problem.

Jefferson Parish will always be next to a city that at various times in the recent past has been the nation’s murder capital. While we work closely with our colleagues in New Orleans and have an excellent relationship with them, the fact is there are no moats or barbed wire to prevent criminals from entering Jefferson Parish. While our record in fighting crime is exceptional, we always have to be on guard.

At the JPSO, we are very aware that our outstanding record is also a function of the great relationship that we have with the community that we serve. We think that Jefferson Parish is just as proud of our five-minute response time to emergency calls as is the JPSO. If you see something in your neighborhood that doesn’t look right to you, don’t hesitate to call 911 for help. We’ll come out and take a look. If it’s a false alarm, that’s all right. All of us would rather be safe than sorry.

Thanks again for once more making National Night Out Against Crime a smashing success. Let’s continue to work together with the goal of further reducing crime in Jefferson Parish. The cooperation between the community and the JPSO makes further gains possible.


Many Thanks To Lane Chouest For Allowing JPSO
The Use of the New Raceway in Avondale

We often have reason to take note of the tremendous support the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office receives from the community we serve. It would be difficult to cite a better example of this than the very generous offer of Lane Chouest to allow the JPSO to use the new $60 million NOLA Motor Sports Park raceway for helping officers develop the skills they’ll need to successfully take part in high speed chases, if necessary.

The Chouest family of South Louisiana has always been community-minded and this generosity is in the best traditions of a family that cares about their fellow citizens. Needless to say, our officers are delighted to have the opportunity to improve their driving skills on one of the nation’s finest automotive tracks. We require the high speed precision driving course of every officer who drives a JPSO vehicle.

We are fortunate in having eight officers who are graduates of the National Academy of Police Driving in Dallas, Texas to teach the course which will begin in October and extend into December. Typical of the outstanding certified drivers who will be teaching the course are JPSO Sergeant Mike Pizzolato, who works in the Fourth District, and JPSO Sergeant George Gutierrez, who is assigned to the Second District. They are both outstanding police officers, each with 12 years’ experience.

I consider it absolutely essential that every JPSO officer who drives a departmental vehicle complete the high speed precision driving course. At the same time, we will keep in place our rule that a supervisor can call off a chase if he or she feels that its continuation will put the public at risk to an extent that is not acceptable.

We certainly want to stop and arrest criminals who are fleeing the law. But the desirability of making the arrest does not outweigh our concern for the safety of the public. Preparing our officers for high speed chases is absolutely essential but we will always balance the desire for an arrest of an escaping criminal with the need to protect innocent bystanders.


A Life-Changing Experience For Young People

I am pleased that another JPSO Young Marines class has been formed and is already well on the way toward becoming a team that stresses confidence, academic excellence, respect for others, self-discipline and the setting of lofty goals.

 We created the JPSO Young Marines program because of concerns that juvenile gangs might attract young Jefferson Parish boys and girls by making illegal behavior seem exciting and challenging. Our point in establishing the JPSO Young Marines is to let the young people of Jefferson Parish know that with our gang, they can excel and will never get in trouble with the law for doing the right things.

 No one enjoys JPSO Young Marines graduations more than I do. It is such a pleasure to see the pride felt by the Young Marines graduates, their parents, brothers and sisters and friends. The Young Marines are rightfully proud because they have mastered the secrets of close order drill, classroom study and personal organization during their recruit training. Their parents and all the others are proud of them because it is obvious that these Young Marines have grown in the process and set the stage for their further continued growth.

 As with any successful organization, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines achieve at a high level because many different individuals contribute to the effort. I am grateful to JPSO Sergeant William Jones, Deputy Tammy Howard,  Deputy Joseph DiLeo and all the other JPSO personnel and adult volunteers who make the Young Marines so successful.  I am also grateful to the Young Marines who have graduated and are now helping to train the new recruits. Everyone associated with the program is impressed by the efforts of JPSO Young Marines Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Huffman, an 18-year-old senior at Riverdale High School. We think he has an outstanding future ahead of him.

 The same can be said for the recruit class now developing their skills, getting ready for their moment in the spotlight at their graduation ceremony on November 13. If you know of a boy or girl who might benefit from being selected for the next JPSO Young Marines recruit class, please call 363-5692 or 363-5694 to get more information about the application process. We hope you can be among the applauding parents and grandparents at a future JPSO Young Marines graduation.


Storing Thousands of Pieces of Evidence
And Then Being Able To Find Each One
Is a Huge, Vital Task

Each year, between 15,000 and 20,000 pieces of evidence related to criminal cases in Jefferson Parish are brought to the JPSO Property & Evidence section. Over a period of 10 years, that amounts to more than 200,000 pieces of evidence. For the wheels of justice to grind effectively, someone has to be able to find each piece of evidence when the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office needs it for prosecutorial purposes.

Or, if the Jefferson Parish District Attorney concludes that they no longer have a need for it, then someone has to know the time has come to return the evidence to its original owner or destroy it to make space in the warehouse for other, more relevant pieces of evidence

The task of handling this mountain of evidence – from rape kits to stolen bicycles – falls on JPSO Lieutenant Robert Gerdes and his staff of seven hard-working associates. Fortunately for the cause of justice, they have done a superb job.

In the same way that only certain people have the characteristics and personal strengths to be homicide investigators, it takes a very special person to be an effective member of the Property & Evidence team. Everyone on Lieutenant Gerdes’ team has computer skills and an innate gift for organization and detail. I cannot fully convey how appreciative I am when I visit Property & Evidence and see the neat containers that hold pieces of crucial evidence in thousands of criminal cases. Law enforcement agencies in many different parts of the country have been torn apart when their Property & Evidence sections descended into chaos because the personnel could not handle the constant, unending flow of materials that have to be catalogued, stored and then found when needed. Or, if not needed, disposed of.

I commend JPSO Lieutenant Gerdes and his staff who do a superior job, along with JPSO Deputy Chief Steve LaChute who oversees their efforts.


The Response of Jefferson Parish Public Employees
To Hurricane Issac Was Superlative

The response of Jefferson Parish’s public employees to Hurricane Isaac was brave, capable and fast. I am especially proud of the way that the 1,500 men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to the storm. But it is a tribute that the JPSO gladly shares with the parish and municipal employees, the parish and municipal Fire Departments, the Emergency Medical Technicians and the municipal police departments. We all worked as a very effective team.

I would like to take moment to pay special homage to a group of JPSO employees who were key to our response but get very little public recognition. That is the JPSO 911 team. These 83 employees stayed in Jefferson Parish’s Emergency Operations Center in Gretna for a week and didn’t leave until the recovery from the hurricane was well underway.

Each hurricane is different and Hurricane Isaac was unlike any other that I have been through as it hovered over Jefferson Parish and Metro New Orleans for several days. Each hurricane teaches us important lessons to be learned before the next hurricane threatens us. We learned a lot of painful lessons from Hurricane Katrina as our communications system went down with a thud. This time, we did much better. We have a new communications system that stood up much better to hurricane-force winds and rain. The new Emergency Operations Center built in Downtown Gretna is a fantastic building that protected Jefferson Parish and JPSO personnel from the storm and provided sleeping facilities, hot food, a terrific communications system and places in the building where fatigued employees can catch their breath while getting ready to go back on duty. Our 911 team handled 22,000 emergency calls in a week during Isaac, an incredible work load.

One of the lessons of Hurricane Isaac is that hurricane categories mean nothing. If anyone imagined that a Category 1 storm would be one day and done, they certainly have reason to think again. The folks who reside in Lafitte and Barataria – as well as those who live in St. John the Baptist Parish – can tell you that a Category 1 storm can be frightening and life-threatening.

By choosing to live in South Louisiana, we acknowledge that we are going to have to face hurricanes. The demise of our barrier islands and wetlands has made those hurricanes even more dangerous and threatening. But we are better equipped than ever before to meet the threat of these hurricanes. And, surely, our ace in the hole is the hearts and courage of the men and women who work for parish and municipal governments in Jefferson Parish. No one better exemplifies that heart and courage than the men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.


Can We Sell The Benefits of Good Health to JPSO Officers?
We’re Certainly Going to Try   
    

I have been a member of the law enforcement profession for 30 years. During that time, I have heard every conceivable joke about police officers and our alleged love of doughnuts.

As in most humor, there is in fact a basis in fact in the jokes about cops and doughnuts. Police officers, by the very nature of their work, often eat on the run and frequently turn to fast food outlets for their meals and snacks. Because of the level of stress that often goes with our work, police officers for many generations have turned to sugar-filled snacks for energy lifts.     

I’ve been thinking about this in a very serious way in the last couple of years as I review the departmental statistics on health and medical services. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject but it is becoming clear to me that the level of illnesses among law enforcement officers is in many instances directly related to wellness and fitness. Not just at the JPSO but at law enforcement agencies across the nation, attention is being turned to the high levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension and other illnesses that stem from bad diets and lack of fitness-related exercises.

When we begin our careers as police officers, coming out of training academies where we have to prove we can run and jump, we are uniformly fit. But, as the years go by, the fast food fare that we eat and the lack of an exercise program, begin to take their toll.           

I have inaugurated a voluntary wellness and fitness program at the JPSO for two very good reasons. The first is that it makes good sense to try to reduce the medical costs that go with levels of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses that are too high. The second is that I want to create a voluntary fitness program that will hopefully spare hundreds of officers the agony that goes with wellness-related illnesses.    

Because I would never want it said that I told everyone else at the JPSO to get on with the wellness and fitness program while I persevered with my own sometimes unhealthy regimen, I have joined the volunteer program and will be soliciting and following the advice of the experts from East and West Jefferson General Hospitals who have agreed to assist us.        

I feel that we are entering new territory here. There are no guarantees this voluntary fitness-wellness program is going to work. My hope is that we can appreciably reduce the illnesses that have marred the quality of life enjoyment of many JPSO officers.  We’ll see where it leads. I’ll let you know.


Parents, Please Heed Our Warning:
Illegal Synthetic Drugs Can Kill Your Kids

 I am appalled by the appearance of synthetic drugs being sold in Jefferson Parish that have on many occasions caused persons who consumed or smoked them to be admitted to hospitals with accelerated heart beats, dangerously high blood pressure and suffering hallucinations.

 I’m a parent and I’m reaching out to all the parents of Jefferson Parish to tell you that these drugs are being sold underground from hand to hand in Jefferson Parish by drug dealers who will promise your kid “a real good high” if they smoke these synthetic drugs. In reality, what they should be promising in addition to “a real good high” is being rushed to the hospital and, quite possibly, the Intensive Care Unit.

 A great deal of credit belongs to the men and women of the JPSO Narcotics Division who were initially made aware of the impact of these drugs by phone calls from frightened parents whose children were hospitalized after smoking these synthetic drugs.

 JPSO officers subsequently shut down the retail locations on the East and West Banks where these drugs were being openly sold across the counter. As part of the marketing scam to sell these synthetic drugs, they were wrapped in bright, cheery paper and had marked on them, “Not For Human Consumption.” But, that, of course, was part of the scam. The whole purpose of marketing these drugs is for their use – usually to be smoked – by the consumers. Apparently, many young people are in the market for “a real good high” in preference to the high that can be achieved by consuming products containing alcohol. The problem with these synthetic drugs is that they are potential killers.

 Because the emergence of synthetic drugs is a relatively new threat in our community, many states – including Louisiana – are just now formulating laws that make illegal these synthetic substances. We at the JPSO are working closely with members of our legislative delegation in Jefferson Parish to formulate laws to be adopted in our state and others

I especially want to cite the efforts of  the officers of the JPSO Narcotics Division who have led the effort to crack down on synthetic drugs and make the community aware of the danger that these drugs pose for those who are tempted to purchase and use them. Please join with me to make sure that our young people in Jefferson Parish are aware of the dangers of using synthetic drugs and the threat that they pose to those who consume these drugs.


The JPSO Homicide Investigators Are A Remarkable Group
Who Achieve Outstanding Results
  

I have long believed that it takes a very special type of individual to be an outstanding Homicide investigator.

To begin with, a Homicide investigator has to be comfortable with the idea of starting his or her investigation with nothing. Very often, a Homicide investigator begins with nothing more a corpse, usually riddled with multiple gunshots. Frequently, the dead person has no identification on them. In all likelihood, there is no murder weapon at the scene. For the Homicide investigator, this is the way that dozens of cases begin.

They must hope that the victim’s fingerprints are on some local, regional or national fingerprint file so they can establish the identity of the deceased. Another possibility is that some citizen seeking a reward or wanting to help solve the murder of someone they knew will call Crimestoppers and offer information about the murder. In some instances, it will turn out that the dead person was not a resident of Jefferson Parish but was dumped in Jefferson by whoever committed the murder.

From these slight beginnings starts an investigation that may take days, weeks or months. But, at the end of it, in two-thirds of all these cases, the men and women of the Homicide Division will be able to tell who the deceased was, much of their life story and – most importantly – who was responsible for their death.

It takes a special person to command the Homicide Division and we are truly fortunate at the JPSO that Captain Dennis Thornton is indeed unique and specially qualified to head this vital law enforcement function. He is a 34-year veteran of the JPSO who earned a Master’s degree in criminal justice at Indiana State University and is a graduate of the FBI Academy, one of the highest honors that can be achieved in law enforcement.

 Captain Thornton heads an outstanding team that is composed of team players. The eight detectives and two sergeants in the Homicide Division work closely with their colleagues in other JPSO divisions and units as well as the prosecutors in the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office. Because of their efforts, cases that in the beginning seemed impossible to solve in the end become prosecuted cases that are presented to Jefferson Parish juries with sufficient credible evidence to warrant a guilty verdict.     


Here’s a Tip For Outstanding High School Students:
Sign Up For Crimestoppers Teen Ambassadors Against Crime

I would like to recommend to achievement-minded high school students and their parents throughout the Metro New Orleans area that they consider applying for the Crimestoppers Teen Ambassadors Against Crime program for the coming

This is an outstanding and innovative program created by long-time Crimestoppers President and CEO Darlene Cusanza because she recognized the need to inform outstanding high school students about the realities of the criminal justice system, how it works and, equally important, the lingering and terrible impacts of crime on its victims.

So far, in the first two years of the program, 75 students from 33 high schools in three parishes have participated in Teen Ambassadors Against Crime. I think that every boy and girl in the program will tell you they have had an outstanding experience. For several, their participation in the Teen Ambassadors program has led to summer internships at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies.

I am especially pleased 22 Jefferson Parish high school students representing 17 different high schools have participated as Teen Ambassadors. They have visited law enforcement agencies and the courts. At the JPSO, they got a tour and an orientation at the Crime Lab and also visited the Firing Range where they saw a weapons demonstration. Perhaps most important from my point of view, the Teen Ambassadors also got to meet law enforcement officers and to hear the perspectives of those who fight crime when it comes to criminals and the impact that they have on society and those who fall victim to them.

think it’s very important that young leaders are given accurate information about the threat that crime poses to our community and to the families of law-abiding citizens. It’s also important that young citizens understand how the courts function, the responsibilities and ethical standards that law enforcement officers must respect as well as developing compassion for the innocent people victimized by crime whose trauma often lives on long after the criminal has been arrested, convicted and sent to prison.

If you are a high school student who might be interested in becoming a Crimestoppers Teen Ambassador Against Crime, please ask your principal for an application. Or, call Crimestoppers direct at 837-8477. This is an excellent program that will not only make you well informed but could lead to an internship or even a career at a law enforcement agency.


Our Hope Is That JPSO Band of Excellence
Will Grow In Numerical Size and Musical Expertise

It’s hard for me to believe that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Band of Excellence is now entering its third year. At the conclusion of the 2012 school year, we had more than 100 band members playing at our concerts, winning standing ovations from admiring audiences.

But yesterday’s achievements are already an old story. I don’t think any of us will be satisfied unless we attract more students to the Band of Excellence and the quality of the band’s performances becomes even better.

Much of the credit for all that has been accomplished goes to our band director, Dr. Hezekiah Brinson. We were extremely fortunate to recruit him as the band director for the Band of Excellence and he has become the heart and soul of this incredible effort. He has brought together an outstanding staff, led by Assistant Band Director John Summers. Even for those of us who had the highest hopes and expectations, it is remarkable that we can now say that in two years, we have seen 25 senior members of the Band of Excellence win scholarships to university marching bands. Dr. Brinson is hopeful that at the end of the 2013 school year, we will be able to announce that 20 seniors have been awarded university scholarships. This summer, we have seen more than 70 boys and girls participate in a JPSO Band of Excellence camp.

When I began this endeavor, it was with the belief there are many incredibly talented boys and girls in Metro New Orleans who have the ability to become excellent musicians if they had access to the right learning environment.

Thanks to Dr. Brinson and his superb staff, we have been able to create the right environment, including a band facility on the JPSO campus adjacent to the West Bank Expressway. This is where the Band of Excellence practices and stores its equipment.

There really are no words fully adequate to express my appreciation to all the people who have helped make the Band of Excellence so successful. That includes the staff, the volunteers, the boys and girls who have proven to be such fine musicians and their families. Together, we have created something that is, as Dr. Brinson says, truly special. I’m proud to be a part of the JPSO Band of Excellence family.


JPSO Young Marines Is Just a Great Program
That Helps Produce Outstanding Young People

It’s hard to believe that 18 years have passed since we began the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines program. In that time, some 1,800 Jefferson Parish boys and girls have graduated from Young Marines training. All across Jefferson Parish are young men and women who will tell you that their experience as a JPSO Young Marine helped shape them and contributed greatly to the development of their character.

I had a chance to think about that this summer because Jason Asbill, who joined the JPSO Young Marines as a 10-year-old worked in our office. Jason is now a second-year law student at the Mississippi College School of Law. It was really special to see this young man with his background as a JPSO Young Marine handle some really challenging assignments as a legal researcher for the JPSO Legal Advisor, Tim Valenti.

Jason says that like most 10 year-olds, he came to the JPSO Young Marines program pretty much unformed. He was certainly a smart 10-year old with a good mind, but he was a very reserved, shy child who wasn’t at that time especially well organized, highly motivated nor did he have any inkling at age 10 of what he might want to be when he grew up.

“It was in the Young Marines,” Jason told me, “that I learned about organization. I learned to organize myself to study. I also learned about self-discipline. I wanted to be recognized as one of the best Young Marines but to do that, I had to learn to study efficiently, organize myself and set a high standard for learning. That’s a lot for a little 10-year-old kid but the instructors and the older Young Marines kept pushing me in a good way to do more, to step up and take pride in myself and my accomplishments. The Young Marines just molded me. Whatever I am today began as a 10-year-old Young Marine. Isn’t that amazing?”

Well, it is amazing but it is a formula that has worked for thousands of boys and girls who wore the Young Marines uniform. In Jefferson Parish, less than one percent of all Young Marines graduates have gotten in trouble with the law. And, like Jason, many hundreds of Young Marines discovered their potential and as they grew, began to think about graduating from high school and going on to college and, perhaps, graduate school.

At the JPSO, we are incredibly proud of Jason Asbill, a former JPSO Young Marine, a former National Young Marine of the Year, now a husband, father and soon to be an attorney. I hope Jason returns to Louisiana after his graduation from law school. We need more young people like Jason in our state. We will soon be launching another JPSO Young Marines class. If you would like more information about this remarkable program, please call my office at 363-5701. You may be very glad that you did.


JPSO Has Unique Methods of Reaching Out
To Children of Jefferson Parish

To Children of Jefferson Parish I am often approached by Jefferson Parish residents who say their earliest memory of seeing and hearing a police officer occurred when they were in elementary school and an officer from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Division visited to talk about gun safety and the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.

Very often, these Jefferson adults say they still remember how nice the officer was to the kids and how, today, these adults often repeat the same lessons to their children about gun safety and the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.

I think that there are not many police departments in the nation anymore that still have extensive community relations programs, including teaching programs like DARE or the JPSO Young Marines. That we are still able to offer these positive programs is entirely due to the positive spirit of Jefferson Parish taxpayers who have made safe streets and a high quality of life among their highest priorities.

These programs still have great value today because of the outstanding work of JPSO officers like Lieutenant Terri Heno who spent 24 years in the Community Relations program making hundreds of visits to school and interacting with thousands of Jefferson Parish children and Detective Sean Cursain of the JPSO Narcotics Division who has volunteered to work with our Community Relations officers.

Working with Detective Cursain is Rex, a nine-year-old Golden Retriever who is one of the best drug-sniffing dogs in the history of the JPSO. Rex is the bane of drug dealers and his ability to find hidden drugs, weapons and money has sent scores of them to jail. But when Rex isn’t being a tough K-9 dog, he has a heart of gold for children and loves to perform before them. It is great fun to watch the children get involved in Rex’s unrelenting search for a drug-scented cotton ball hidden by the kids and their enthusiastic outcry when he locates it, as he always does.

There is also a more serious aspect to Lieutenant Heno’s work for the Community Relations Division. She was often called on to counsel high school girls about the danger of what is known as “acquaintance rape.” Lieutenant Heno, recently promoted to Commander of the JPSO Records Division, did an outstanding job of helping teenage girls understand that if they are molested, the guilt is not on them but on the person who maliciously invaded their privacy and that they are the victim of a crime.

We are fortunate at the JPSO to have outstanding officers like Lieutenant Heno and Detective Cursain, along with K-9 dog Rex, who love this community and want to reach out to the children of Jefferson Parish to help keep them safe.


How Do You Prepare For The Unthinkable?

Can any of us even begin to imagine the horror felt by the patrons in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado when a killer among them began firing a shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun at random killing 12 and wounding 58?

It may be a small miracle that it wasn’t even worse. Reports are that the AR-15, attached to a 100-bullet magazine, jammed.

At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, it’s part of our moral duty to think about facing the unthinkable. Suppose a person just like the Aurora gunman appeared with his weapons in a Jefferson Parish school, theater, church, playground or mall? If you were a JPSO officer, perhaps a member of our Patrol Division, the most likely first responders, what would your responsibilities be? What would we expect you to do? What would you have been trained to do?

We have spent a lot of time studying the mass murder incidents in America in the last 20 years. We have strong feelings about appropriate and proper law enforcement responses to the lone gunman in a crowded place syndrome and we have developed a teaching program to prepare our officers for such an eventuality, even as we pray that such an occurrence will never come to Jefferson Parish.

We believe that the old police philosophy that the first responders must form a perimeter to keep the gunman from escaping and wait for the SWAT Team to arrive is obsolete. If the police officers who are the first responders hesitate and wait, the gunman will just keep killing and wounding people.

Our tactic is to attack. We tell our officers that they have to run to the sound of the gun. They have to be under control even while moving fast. They must positively identify the shooter. The tragedy would just be made worse if a law enforcement officer mistakenly shot an innocent civilian who was running for his or her life. Once having identified the shooter, the officers must either affect his arrest or stop him with force.

In Jefferson Parish, all the movie theaters hire off-duty JPSO uniformed officers for their security patrols. When it comes to outdoor events, such as school fairs, football games and concerts, there are parish regulations requiring police officers be hired for security details.

There is no perfect response to the gunman in the crowd. Initially, he has the advantage of surprise on his side. He fires the first shots. But our officers have been working at our indoor firing range, in the classroom and in buildings loaned to us by outstanding community institutions like Rummel High School, to maximize our response to the unthinkable. We are aware of the potential threat. Our officers are well-trained and prepared to respond at the risk of their own lives. We prepare for the unthinkable with good thinking, good planning, hard work and lots of courage.


JPSO Homicide Investigators Are Among Elite
In A Vital Profession

It was a great honor recently to be invited to address the 19th Annual Symposium of the International Homicide Investigators Association held in New Orleans.

I have long believed that the homicide investigator plays a key role in a modern society where guns are abundantly available and murder is often seen as an acceptable way to get rid of business or domestic rivals. If it were not for the homicide investigator, anarchy would reign on our streets. Who could have confidence in the police or in government if murders were common place or rarely solved with an arrest or a conviction?

I was pleased to learn at the homicide investigators symposium that the JPSO Homicide Section and the JPSO Crime Lab are among the most highly respected by the members of this international organization. The JPSO homicide investigators are known for their diligence and the comprehensive nature of their investigations. Our Crime Lab, recently settled in their new quarters on our West Bank campus, is already one of the busiest Crime Labs in the nation, doing outstanding work. It was no surprise that the homicide investigators asked Colonel Tim Scanlan, who heads the JPSO Crime Lab, to address their group.

Special credit is due JPSO Captain Steve Buras, a 41-year veteran, who is a former president of the International Homicide Investigators Association and played an important role in persuading the group to bring their symposium to New Orleans. Also, thanks in part to Captain Buras, the group will return to New Orleans in 2016.

All indications are that the homicide investigator, working with Crime Labs and prosecutors will continue to be among the most important members of the law enforcement community. In Jefferson Parish, the JPSO Homicide Section works along with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office to present the best possible case to Jefferson Parish juries. In addition, many of our veteran homicide investigators are experts at testifying credibly before juries. Many of our senior investigators have testified in 100 or more murder trials. When it comes to solving murders, law enforcement is a team game. At the JPSO, our Patrol Division, the Homicide Section and the Crime Lab all work closely together to solve murders. Then, working with the DA’s Office, we collaborate to convict murderers.

The hard work of all these individuals and their organizations are among the reasons that we are able to say that Jefferson Parish is one of the safest communities of its size in the nation.


The Friendly Exchange of Ideas  
Is Always A Good Idea

I am always pleased when police departments from other nations single out the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office as one of the places they want to visit when they send a delegation to the United States.

 After all, the 23-member delegation from Hangzhou, China could have gone anywhere in the U.S. on their visit here. But, among the U.S. police departments they chose to visit, the police from Hangzhou singled out the JPSO although we are not among the largest police departments in the U.S. In part, the Chinese may have been continuing a tradition begun by my predecessor, the late Sheriff Harry Lee, the first Chinese-American sheriff in the U.S. I’m sure that had something to do with it. But, I like to think that the Chinese also put us down on their list because we are known for having good equipment, good training, good facilities and very progressive, innovative attitudes toward police work.

 So it was not a surprise that the visiting Chinese showed great interest in our two JPSO helicopters. As they explained to our officers at the LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue), until very recently in China, helicopters were considered to be the exclusive province of the military. But, as we have demonstrated here in Jefferson Parish, helicopters can serve a wide variety of uses, including first response in natural disasters, search and rescue when people are lost in the woods or their boats break down in the water, and pursuit of criminals. Now, in fairness, it should surely be noted that during the worst of natural disasters we have experienced – Hurricane Katrina, of course – helicopters from the armed services, especially the U.S. Coast Guard did an incredible job of rescuing people who might otherwise have been swallowed up by the raging waters unleashed by the hurricane.

 That is certainly a valid point and our JPSO officers were delighted to see military helicopters in the skies over Jefferson Parish, the City of New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish. They did a great job. But the fact remains that helicopters put in the air by the JPSO are also an important element in the response plan when we start planning what we will do if a hurricane comes our way in 2012.

 Our point is, and this was clearly understood by the Chinese police officers, is that helicopters are a vital part of both the law enforcement and the military response to natural disasters, whether it be a hurricane in Louisiana or an earthquake in China.

 The exchange of international visits by law enforcement officers, pioneered in considerable measure, by Sheriff Lee brings with it valuable exchanges of information for both the visitors and the hosts. Our door is always open to police officers from other nations. We are pleased and honored that they choose to visit Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. 


 

Working With CASA and the Juvenile Court Judges,
We Can Give Help and Hope to Abused Children

 

My heart was really touched the other evening when I saw the turnout to help Jefferson Parish’s CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recruit some needed male volunteers.

     

We had New Orleans Saints football players, news celebrities like Jennifer Hale and Mike Theis and hundreds more who are familiar with the CASA program and the wonderful things that it has done to help children who have been abused.

     

CASA and the Juvenile Court from a law enforcement standpoint have seen dozens of cases where children who have been sexually or physically abused that are understandably drifting through life, filled with the trauma that has been inflicted on them. For these children, unless there is a loving intervention, life can seem hopeless. All too often, if not helped, they become homeless, drop out of school, become involved in the use of illegal drugs, get in trouble with the law and end up in and out of jail. Fortunately for all of us, in Jefferson Parish there is CASA. The volunteer special advocates help the courts with their reports but, equally important, often become mentors to the abused children who are trying desperately to get a positive grip on life.

     

I often think of Ronald Dixon, a retired U.S. Post Office employee and a CASA volunteer who helped steer a teenage boy to a meaningful reconciliation with his mother. The boy is now in school, hopefully headed for a university. Mr. Dixon made a huge difference in that child’s life, as have other CASA volunteers.

     

I am also an admirer of Cynthia Chauvin, the Executive Director of the CASA program. She has developed, with the help of her staff and volunteers, one of the nation’s best Special Advocate programs with some 91 percent of all children assigned to Jefferson CASA ending up in positive permanent placements in good homes.

     

It’s wonderful that so many people recognize the good that CASA does and want to help. I certainly want to do all that I can to help make CASA even more successful.      


Louisiana Special Olympics Is Deserving
Of Our Support and Applause

There are so many wonderful non-profit causes in South Louisiana that admirably serve our community and benefit those in need. I wish I could do more for each of them. But there is a special place in my heart for Louisiana’s Special Olympics. After you have watched 700 boys and girls vastly exceed their handicaps at a Special Olympics event, your view of the world is never quite the same.

I am especially pleased that so many of my colleagues at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office share my feelings about Special Olympics. It is remarkable indeed that twenty-four members of the JPSO SWAT Team volunteered to participate in an eight-mile run to carry the Special Olympics Torch. This was not something that was required of them. Participating in the run with officers from 20 other law enforcement organizations was something that they wanted to do. I know that they felt really good about their role in carrying the Special Olympics Torch when motorists and pedestrians stopped to applaud them on their route from Zephyr Stadium to the Kenner Police Department administration building.

Later this year, we will join hands with Special Olympics again when the JPSO hosts a Special Olympics fundraiser that we call “Over the Edge.” A group of major contributors to Special Olympics will be invited to join our JPSO SWAT team in repelling down the Benson Tower in Downtown New Orleans. Then, they will be flown by helicopter to the JPSO Training Academy on the West Bank where they will be briefed by members of the JPSO SWAT Team on our tactics and training. They will also be invited to join SWAT Team members at our indoor firing range to actually fire some of the weapons we use in SWAT Team work.

Later this year, we will join hands with Special Olympics again when the JPSO hosts a Special Olympics fundraiser that we call “Over the Edge.” A group of major contributors to Special Olympics will be invited to join our JPSO SWAT team in repelling down the Benson Tower in Downtown New Orleans. Then, they will be flown by helicopter to the JPSO Training Academy on the West Bank where they will be briefed by members of the JPSO SWAT Team on our tactics and training. They will also be invited to join SWAT Team members at our indoor firing range to actually fire some of the weapons we use in SWAT Team work.

All of us at the JPSO are proud to be part of the Louisiana Special Olympics family. We will continue to support Louisiana Special Olympics and we will be among the Special Olympics supporters cheering on the boys and girls as they cross the finish line.


Why Do We Keep Working So Hard On Leadership and Ethical Behavior?
Because We Want To Set the Highest Standards at the JPSO

We know that we are blessed at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The community that we serve is one of the safest of its size in the U.S. The taxpayers of Jefferson Parish have for many years set safe streets as one of their highest priorities and, because of them, we are one of the best-equipped, best trained and best supported police departments in our region or anywhere in the nation. We know that we’re very fortunate.

So why, one might ask, is the JPSO constantly working on leadership development, awareness of ethical standards and character? The answer, for me, is that we are an organization that can never afford to be satisfied with where we were yesterday. The important thing is where we want to be tomorrow. And where we want to be tomorrow is better – better at internal leadership, better at ethical conduct and better at understanding our role in protecting and serving Jefferson Parish.

And, to my mind, the only way that you get better at these things is by consciously thinking about them and constantly working to set the highest standards for ourselves.

That is why we hired the International Academy of Public Safety – a group with a long, successful record of working with the military and law enforcement – to come in to teach a course on leadership and ethics. I am especially appreciative of the efforts of the faculty of the JPSO Training Academy who have worked closely with Dr. Mitch Javidi and Dr. Larry Long of the International Academy on this training program designed especially for the JPSO.

The reason I insisted on taking the course myself and being tested on the content is that I wanted to send the message – no one in our organization is exempt from improving their leadership skills, their ethical awareness or their character. We designed this course for everyone from the Sheriff, our Chief Deputies, our deputy chiefs, ranking officers down to our newest deputy because we want those who are just starting their careers at the JPSO to begin thinking about leadership – even though at the moment the only one they’re leading is themselves.

I cannot tell you how strongly I feel that any organization – much less an organization of 1,500 with responsibilities for the safety of a community of more than 400,000 – has to always be focused on getting better and constantly raising its standards. We’re very appreciative of the support we get from the residents of Jefferson Parish who support our efforts to make our department the very best that it can be.


JPSO Getting Ready For Hurricane Season,
Shouldn’t You Be Getting Ready Also?

If you spent time around the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) Division, you would find them hard at work checking and re-checking every piece of equipment in our inventory.

Whether it’s our trucks, our boats or our two helicopters, the men and women of the LASER Division test them every day in conditions that simulate what the situation might be like if a hurricane packing the force of a Hurricane Katrina came rolling out of the Gulf of Mexico toward Jefferson Parish.

Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina certainly haven’t forgotten what that was like. At the JPSO, we often refer to what we call “the lessons of Katrina.” Because of our experiences during Hurricane Katrina we have almost completely replaced the equipment – trucks, boats, communications system – that we had when Hurricane Katrina burst upon us. We feel that because of the lessons of Katrina, we are much better equipped to face a hurricane in 2012, even though we certainly know that no two hurricanes are ever exactly alike.

But what about you? If you, like most of our 1,500 Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office employees, and your family endured the travails that Hurricane Katrina brought with her, what have you learned and are you now getting ready for the hurricane season? If it comes to that, will you be ready to evacuate? Is your first aid kit ready to be placed in your vehicle? If the order came to evacuate Jefferson Parish, do you know where you would go? If you will need hotel reservations, do you know what hotel chains you’ll call? Do you have list of all the doctors who treat members of your family? Do you have a list of all the medications used by your family members? Have you talked to your family’s doctors about their plans for evacuation if it comes to that? Should you have their cell phone numbers in case you have to reach them during an evacuation?

I’m sure that if you think about it, you can write down another 50 or more questions that you would like to have the answers to regarding the possible eventualities that might occur this summer. My point is that in the same methodical way that the JPSO is getting ready for the 2012 hurricane season, you too may want to start preparing methodically for whatever the upcoming storm season may bring. It’s June and it’s time to start thinking about hurricanes and how we’ll respond if one or more comes our way.


On Behalf of All the First Responders of Jefferson Parish,
Thank You St. Catherine of Siena for a Wonderful Blue Mass

I can tell you there was a tremendous feeling of pride shared by the 100 Jefferson Parish First Responders who formed the procession that marched into St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church recently for the church’s 10th Annual Blue Mass.

Each year, the Blue Mass is a special occasion for me and I know the feeling is shared by other First Responders. Although we might pretend to be nonchalant about it, the fact is that all of us like to be appreciated, supported, encouraged and thanked. Those of us who represented the parish’s First Responders at St. Catherine’s recent Blue Mass all felt the same way. When hundreds of men, women and children come to church for the specific purpose of expressing their gratitude, it really means something. I was deeply honored to be walking beside my colleagues, Louisiana State Police

Captain Carl Saizan; Jefferson Parish Fire Chief Joseph Greco, Jr. and longtime Jefferson Parish Emergency Technician Luke Strack, as we led the First Responder procession into the church.

I know that all of the First Responders feel a sense of pride about the work that is done by them and their colleagues. We think that Jefferson Parish is the very best and that it’s an honor to serve such a fine community. And, when someone, like the congregants and guests at St. Catherine goes out of their way to tell they think we’re the best First Responders and how proud they are to support us, that really feels good.

I would especially like to thank St. Catherine Knights of Columbus Council 12686 for all the work that went into the Blue Mass, including lunch. We owe a special thanks to Ken Kray who served as coordinator for the event and did an excellent job.

All of us First Responders are looking forward to next year’s 11th Annual Blue Mass at St. Catherine. Ken Kray told me the Knights of Columbus are already starting to work on the plans for next year’s event. I’m sure it will be excellent as it has been for the last 10 years. We offer our warmest thanks and appreciation to the men and women of St. Catherine’s, as well as their staff and clergy. You make us proud to be First Responders.


Wow! Nineteen Scholarship Offers
For Band of Excellence Musicians,
Opening the Doors of University Educations

As you can imagine, I am even more elated than are the musicians of the JPSO Band of Excellence who have received the deluge of university marching band scholarships that are raining down on us.

When I began the JPSO Band of Excellence three years ago, I was driven by the belief that there are uncounted hundreds of young people in Jefferson Parish high schools who have enormous musical potential. I could see that potential in the middle school and high school marching bands that we see every year in Mardi Gras parades and other festivities. But, on closer examination, I found that many of these potentially outstanding young musicians never developed their talents because of the time limitations imposed on high school bands, the high costs of musical instruments and musical lessons.

As a part-time musician myself, I know how difficult it is to become really good at playing an instrument. It takes hundreds, or thousands, of hours of practice and it certainly helps to have excellent instruction. And that was when I came up with the idea of creating a Band of Excellence for Jefferson Parish middle school and high school students. My thought was that the JPSO BOE would be a supplement to the existing middle school and high school bands in the parish, providing extra practice time and instruction for kids interested in music.

I was incredibly fortunate in finding private donors willing to help cover the costs of instruments and uniforms. I was also fortunate in finding two wonderful musicians – Dr. Hezikiah Brinson and John Summers – to head up our effort. Dr. Brinson has been a wonderful band director while Mr. Summers is a superb assistant band director. Dr. Brinson and Mr. Summers are a great team. They are more than instructors. They are surrogate parents, role models, mentors and confidantes for the band members. Because of them, the Band of Excellence has become a family embracing more than 100 children.

If you know of a Jefferson Parish child in middle school or high school who is interested in music, you may want to direct them to the JPSO Band of Excellence summer camp, June 11-29. The camp will be held at the BOE facilities on the JPSO campus at 1233 West Bank Expressway.

I can tell you that I have seen the Band of Excellence members grow beyond their increased proficiency in music. They have grown as people, learning self-discipline, organization, time management and goal-setting. Several of them have overcome hurdles and problems that might have destroyed them if they did not have the love and discipline the band has brought into their lives.

Knowing that, you can understand why the development of the Band of Excellence has me smiling.


Young Marines Program Brings Out
The Very Best In Young People

A JPSO Young Marines graduation is among my favorite events.

It is simply amazing to see these young people, most of them aged eight to 12 years old, perform their close order drill, snap to attention and respond perfectly to orders from their sergeants. But, by far, the best part of the evening is to see the expressions on the faces of the Young Marines graduates. You can see that they know they have excelled and are very proud of their achievement.

At the most recent JPSO Young Marines graduation at the Alario Center, the highlight of the evening for me and many others was the introduction of the winner of the fitness award, a tiny eight year old named Breiona Eskinde. She not only won the fitness award but is the first JPSO Young Marines recruit to compile a perfect score on the fitness exam in the 18 years that we have been graduating Young Marines. It takes only a glance to know that while Breiona is very small, within her is a mountain of energy, determination and a personal push to excel at whatever her goal may be. I could not help but think that if I were to embark on some highly competitive challenge that I would like to be on Breiona’s team.

Each year at Young Marines graduations, parents and guardians come to me to express amazement at the transformation that has come over their child who has just graduated. They tell me that their graduate does chores willingly, helps their brothers and sisters, has improved their school grades, does homework without being told and treats others with respect. I have been told this so often that I now consider it a standard achievement for a Young Marines graduate.

I should note with all candor that the Young Marines is not for everyone. But for those who enjoy being part of a team, who enjoy pushing themselves to excel and who think that challenges are just mountains to be climbed, the Young Marines are a perfect fit.

If you have a child or a grandchild who might enjoy the challenge of the Young Marines, please contact us for more information. I can tell you that for the recent 52 graduates of the Young Marines training program, their graduation was almost surely the greatest achievement of their young lives.


JPSO Training Academy a Regional Center for Learning

It was a real honor to host Dominick Misino at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Training Academy recently.

Dominick is famous in law enforcement circles. He is a retired 22-year detective with the New York Police Department who for many years was their chief SWAT negotiator. He handled some of the biggest standoffs in New York or U.S. history and responded to those life-and-death challenges successfully. In his career since leaving the NYPD, he has trained some 10,000 SWAT negotiators around the world.

So, when he came to our Training Academy to run a certification seminar for senior SWAT negotiators it was no surprise that 11 law enforcement agencies, including the JPSO, sent their best people.

When I started my law enforcement career more than 30 years ago, only the largest law enforcement agencies had SWAT Teams and those that did learned mostly by doing. Today, thanks to the availability of federal money, almost every law enforcement agency has a SWAT Team with excellent equipment and access to excellent trainers like Dominick Misino.

Police publications now carry articles on SWAT techniques and teachers with international reputations like Misino are invited around the world to help law enforcement agencies in many languages improve their SWAT Team techniques and raise their SWAT negotiators to the highest levels.

It was very nice of Dominick during his stay here to say some very flattering words about the JPSO, our facilities and equipment, our SWAT Team, our Patrol Division and our training philosophy. The fact is that we do take pride in our facilities, our equipment and the way that we train constantly. We think the way to excel is to practice, practice, and practice.

We are honored to have hosted Dominick Misino and our friends from the Air Force, the Army, the Lafayette Sheriff’s Office; the Hazlehurst, Miss. Police Department; the Copiah, Miss. Police Department; the Kenner Police Department; the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office; the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office; the Natchitoches Police Department, and Southern University. I am told that the seminar was excellent and that all the officers who attended did extremely well. We intend to continue to emphasize training and we hope that Dominick Misino comes back soon. He is welcome at the JPSO anytime.


Band of Excellence Summer Camp a Great Opportunity
For Young Musicians to Improve Their Skills

Three years have passed since we created the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Band of Excellence to offer opportunities for talented young people to fully develop their musical skills, to learn self-discipline and set goals for themselves including college and professional careers.

I could not be more pleased. And, I could not be more appreciative of the many individuals and businesses that have donated more than $300,000 to help cover the costs of instruments and uniforms. The real winners, however, have been the young people who have fallen in love with the opportunity to develop both their musical talents and their personalities. Last year, 11 members of the Band of Excellence won university scholarships for their musical talents. This year, we are hopeful that we will do just as well or even better.

The Band of Excellence grew out of my belief that there are literally thousands of musically talented boys and girls in Jefferson Parish who could be outstanding musicians but never develop their talents because of the high costs of musical instruments and music lessons. The Band of Excellence is not intended to replace high school music programs. We are a supplement to those high school programs, providing the kind of resources, practice time and excellent instruction that enables young musicians to achieve their full potential.

That we are on the right track could be seen at the recent Tipitina’s Instruments A’Comin Outdoor Festival where the Band of Excellence performed superbly and – in my admittedly biased opinion – comparably to the wonderful, legendary St. Augustine High School Marching 100.

Now, we are embarking on our summer camp which runs from June 11 to June 29. It provides musically talented kids a chance to work with three great musicians – our Band Director Hezikiah Brinson, Jr.; our Assistant Band Director John Summers and Special Guest Instructor Nathan Haymer of Southern University.

What pleases me the most about the Band of Excellence is that I see these young people improving as musicians and as people. They are developing self-discipline, setting goals for themselves and aspiring to winning spots in university marching bands. We’re making real progress and we’re just getting started.


Thank You, VFW Post 2131 Women’s Auxiliary
For Recognizing Our Exceptional JPSO Men and Women

I am more grateful than I can say to the members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2131 Women’s Auxiliary for recognizing the incredible work over a two-year period by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office that solved the murder of four persons and sent the four killers to prison for a long time.

The VFW members were right to single out JPSO Detective Gary Barteet for his incredible dedication, determination, focus and tenacity during the investigation that led to the arrests of the four killers, including Dominique Davis who we believe was the main shooter. Among his victims was a 23-month-old child. It is just my opinion but I believe that Detective Barteet was so outraged that anyone would deliberately and maliciously kill a baby that he drove himself and his colleagues until the four killers were in custody, tried and convicted.

But, Detective Barteet would be the first to tell you that this investigation was a team effort with many heroes. For example, the case might not have been solved within two years but for the efforts of a JPSO Crime Scene technician who lifted a legible finger print off a door knob, a very difficult task that requires tremendous skill, determination and patience. We are also grateful to our colleagues, the U.S. Marshals, who were the ones that located Dominique Davis in Atlanta where he had fled from our pursuit.

I agree with Detective Barteet when he said that he was accepting the VFW Women’s Auxiliary award on behalf of all the men and women who worked so hard to break this case open and put the killers behind bars, where they belong.

I place special importance on the award of the VFW Women’s Auxiliary because I believe it reflects the tremendous support the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office receives from the community that we serve. We are extremely fortunate in Jefferson Parish to have the support of the voters who recently renewed a tax that helps make it possible for the JPSO to be one of the best-trained, best-equipped and most technologically advanced police forces in our region and in our nation.

But there is no substitute for the human guts and determination that motivate professional police officers like Detective Barteet and his colleagues. They are fully deserving of the generous praise accorded them by the members of the VFW John McDonogh Post 2131 Ladies Auxiliary. Thank you very much.


Jefferson Parish’s CASA Program Honors Sheriff Normand

The CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Program of Jefferson Parish has named Sheriff Newell Normand as its Outstanding Community Professional.

CASA of Jefferson Parish is one of the nation’s most outstanding programs to assist children who have been emotionally, sexually or physically abused and/or neglected to find permanent placements in good homes. More than 91 percent of the children appointed to the CASA program in 2011 were permanently placed in “forever” homes. CASA is headed by Executive Director Cynthia Chauvin. CASA volunteers, who in 2011 numbered 185, are named and supervised by Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court judges.

Sheriff Normand was honored at recent CASA ceremonies that also honored volunteer Ronald Dixon for his outstanding work in helping an abused child find a good home with his mother who has turned her life around. Dixon is a retired postal worker.

Of Sheriff Normand, Chauvin said, “We are honoring Sheriff Normand in part because of his tremendous support of CASA and because the JPSO has taken the lead in making the protection of children and families one of our community’s top priorities in Jefferson.”

Also on hand was Jefferson Parish President John Young who presented certificates of recognition to Sheriff Normand and Dixon.

“The goal of CASA and the Juvenile Court of Jefferson Parish is to remove children from the foster home system and find them permanent placements in homes where they will be encouraged, where they will learn self-discipline and advance to a productive adulthood,” said Chauvin. “It truly takes a village to accomplish this but we have such a village here in Jefferson Parish where we have seen children who have been terribly abused in effect find second lives that give them another, better chance to escape victim-hood and grow up to be adults who can be proud of all they have accomplished.”

Anyone seeking more information about becoming a CASA volunteer can call 263-0330 or check out the CASA website at www.jpic.org/casa.


Working Closely with Emergency Medical Technicians
Benefits JPSO and The Entire Community

As you know if you have read this column in the past, I am strong and fervent believer in repetitive training. If no one has told you what you’re supposed to do in an emergency or some specific circumstance, how are you to know? And if they have told you the proper course for you to follow, then you need to practice what you’re supposed to do in a setting that closely resembles what you would have to face in a real situation.

So when I heard that Luke Strack, a 21-year veteran Jefferson Parish Emergency Medical Technician, had recommended that the JPSO Training Academy develop a special course for EMT’s to help them better understand the importance of crime scenes and the proper protocol to be followed when responding to a call involving mental illness, I was delighted. That was an excellent idea and we could not have put the challenge into better hands than those of Major Kerry Najolia, Commander of the JPSO Training Academy and an experienced police officer who in his career has been on hundreds of calls in coordination with Jefferson Parish EMT’s.

Major Najolia has supplemented the Training Academy faculty with some outstanding guest lecturers for the EMT’s, including JPSO Colonel Tim Scanlan, Crime Lab Commander; JPSO Captain Dennis Thornton, Homicide Division Commander, and JPSO Deputy C.J. Destor, 4th District Patrol Division.

As Luke Strack has pointed out, on eighty percent of all calls for Jefferson Parish EMT’s, the JPSO is there also. Whether it is a vehicular accident, a crime scene, a call to transport a mentally ill person to medical facilities or an industrial accident, EMT’s and JPSO officers will be there, side by side, working together. The way to maximize our relationship is to better understand what each of us is trying to do in any given circumstance. I agree with Major Najolia and Mr. Strack that EMT’s and the JPSO officers need to think of each other as teammates. We need to think alike and act as one. That is the purpose of the new training program for EMT’s and I look for it to expand and bring us closer together in the years ahead.


CASA Volunteers Help Children Find The Right Path

I am really sorry that the Jefferson Parish CASA program does not receive more positive publicity. While there are many things wrong in the world that should cause all of us to be concerned, there are also many good things that we would all join in applauding if we knew more about them.

A good example of this is the Jefferson Parish CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program. The work that the CASA volunteers are asked to do is, on the surface, lacking in promise of a happy ending. CASA volunteers are asked to work with foster children, many of whom have been physically or sexually abused or neglected. In many instances, the birth parents of these children are in jail or have disappeared. As a law enforcement professional, I can tell you that traumatized children who have been shunted from one foster home to another are usually candidates for awful lives. They are likely, on average, to end up homeless or in jail, or both.

Yet, in spite of the odds, and because of the work of the CASA volunteers, 91 percent of the children assigned to CASA end up in safe, permanent homes with positive placements. In that case, there is an excellent chance that the child will graduate high school, go on to college or the armed services and overcome their tough start in life to lead a productive and commendable adulthood.

As Cynthia Chauvin, the outstanding Executive Director of the Jefferson Parish CASA program, reminds us, “Children are incredibly resilient. Given the right kind of positive, encouraging support, they can overcome even the most traumatic beginnings and remake their lives into something that is uplifting and wonderful.”

She also reminds us that being a CASA volunteer is not for everyone. The work can be very intense and emotional. When I asked Ms. Chauvin what the most important thing is for a CASA volunteer, she replied, “Heart. You’ve got to have the right kind of heart.”

CASA volunteers undergo extensive training before being assigned to a foster child. So far, Ms. Chauvin and her staff have done an excellent job of selecting and training CASA volunteers. Their record of helping guide traumatized foster children to 91 percent positive permanent placements is just remarkable. If you feel that you have the right kind of experience and qualifications to be a CASA volunteer, I hope you will call 263-0330 to get more information. You may also want to check out the web site of the CASA program, www.jpic.org/casa. The CASA volunteers of Jefferson Parish literally save the lives of the foster children assigned to them. That is a great thing.


Why Does Crimestoppers Get So Much Support?
Because It’s A Program That Gets Results

For those of us who have been supporters of Crimestoppers for many years, the recent 2012 Annual Luncheon was a celebration and a triumph.

More than 800 business leaders from throughout the metro area came out for the occasion and brought with them the financial support that Crimestoppers needs to fund its programs that have produced anonymous tips that over the years have led to solving more than 12,000 major crimes. The annual luncheon raised more than $200,000, the second most successful luncheon in Crimestoppers history.

Crimestoppers cannot succeed without the support of the business community. But the business community cannot be successful without the successful work of Crimestoppers and the law enforcement agencies that serve the metro area. At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, we have a great relationship both with Crimestoppers and the business community. The three of us are tied together by a shared determination that criminals aren’t going to run free in the streets of Jefferson Parish. And, they don’t.

JPSO Lieutenant Bruce Harrison, who is the JPSO liaison to Crimestoppers, says, “It’s just amazing how often Crimestoppers receives tips that lead to the arrests of persons who have committed crimes and also to alert us to plans for the commission of crimes, especially in regard to drug deals that have been planned but not yet carried out.”

That, of course, is why it is so important for Crimestoppers to raise funds. It would be nice if anonymous tipsters called Crimestoppers without any thought of reward. While that does sometimes happen, the fact is that most people who supply law enforcement with tips do so for the reward they will receive if their information leads to arrests and indictments. In other words, money is the fuel that feeds Crimestoppers. I want to join my friend, Darlene Cusanza, Executive Director of Crimestoppers in congratulating and her luncheon co-chairs, Bill Hines, David Kerstein and Merritt Lane II, for the superb job they did in bringing together so many business leaders in support of Crimestoppers. Also an important part of the team is Cynthia Molyneux, who served as committee chair.

Our great success in 2012 does not mean that we have won the fight against crime. It is a battle that goes on year after year. But, thanks in considerable measure to Crimestoppers, the forces of law enforcement are continuing to make the streets of our metro area safer in 2012. We are all grateful to the efforts of Crimestoppers, Ms. Cusanza, her staff and her great volunteers.


There’s A Clear Link Between Driving While Intoxicated
And Traffic Accidents, Fatalities and Injuries  
       

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office and the Traffic Court judges are in agreement on an important point – driving while intoxicated is very likely to lead to a traffic accident with a strong possibility of a fatality or an injury with a virtual certainty of property damage.      

The Sheriff’s Office, the DA’s Office and the Traffic Court judges are working together to get intoxicated drivers off the streets.     

We were disappointed last year that there were 10 traffic fatalities in unincorporated Jefferson Parish, up from four fatalities in 2010. In half of last year’s traffic fatalities in Jefferson, the use of alcohol was a major factor leading to a crash that resulted in death.  

This year, the JPSO Traffic Enforcement Division is again stressing our drive against DWIs. We will set up DWI Checkpoints at least twice a month on the East and West Banks. We will also send out JPSO patrol cars with specific instructions to look for drivers whose erratic behavior causes the officers to think there is a strong likelihood that this is a case of driving while intoxicated.      

What can you do to help make Jefferson Parish’s streets safer? Obviously, please don’t drink and drive. Even one drink can affect your reflexes and response time. If you are going to drink, bring along a designated driver or call a taxicab. If you see a friend of yours who has been drinking getting ready to get behind the wheel of their vehicle, please intervene and offer to call a taxi for them.  

The other thing that we would ask you do is to drive defensively. Please drive within the speed limits, come to a complete stop at stop signs and don’t run red lights. When driving in traffic, don’t veer from lane to lane. It’s better to be five minutes late than waiting for an ambulance.

So far, in 2012, we have had one traffic fatality in unincorporated Jefferson Parish. Please do your part to prevent traffic accidents, fatalities and injuries. Don’t drink and drive. Drive defensively. If we can all do those two things, our streets will be a lot safer.


JPSO Crime Lab Deserving of Recent Accolades

The recent ceremony where officials of the accrediting agencies that rate the nation’s Crime Labs presented the highest possible ratings to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab was extremely satisfying on several different levels.

The honors that were accorded us brought back memories of the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of hours that were spent planning every inch of our new Crime Lab building and its facilities. We knew that we wanted to build and maintain the finest Crime Lab in our region and one of the best in the nation. But these things don’t just happen. You have to spend the time on thousands of details. And, even when you’re going for the very top of the heap, there are still budgets to be considered. The challenge isn’t to see how much money you can spend. The challenge is to spend the money that is available wisely to get the maximum return for the investment.

Then, there is the matter of staffing. Perhaps because of the popularity of television shows like “CSI” and “Law and Order,” there is tremendous interest on the part of some of America’s brightest students in careers in the forensic sciences. We were almost overwhelmed by the flood of applications, many of whom had both bachelors and master’s degrees and had graduated with honors. You always want to hire the very best and many of the decisions were close ones, which always leaves you wondering if you made the right choice.

So, how do you know if you made good decisions? Well, one indicator came recently when the JPSO Crime Lab received the highest accreditation ranking, an honor shared by only 57 Crime Labs across the nation. Another indicator comes in the form of the validation that we earn when Jefferson Parish juries use our forensic research as one of the basics for guilty verdicts that affirm the work of our Patrol Division, our Detective Bureau and our Crime Lab.

I’m just sorry you couldn’t join us to share in the good feelings of the 55 people who work in our Crime Lab Building when the accreditation papers were presented to us. And, of course, I’m sorry that you can’t be with us in the courthouse when the juries come in with guilty verdicts that affirm our hard work. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we are building a great team at the JPSO that includes all of our officers and our Crime Lab workers. You can see it in the way that our colleagues around the country regard us and in the way that Jefferson Parish juries respond to our work. Our success does not make us smug. We just keep working harder.


Crimestoppers Is Law Enforcement’s Best Friend

We all live in a world of constantly changing information technology and networks where communication becomes faster and ever faster.

Those of us who were born before cell phones, i-phones and androids often find ourselves wondering how we got along in a world of land-line phones and pay phones. If Clark Kent needed a phone booth to change into Superman, he would be hard pressed today to find a suitable phone booth.

I was pleased recently to find that our friends and allies at Crimestoppers, keeping in step with the times, have expanded their technology so they can now take tips via i-phones and androids. It was not surprising to hear that the volume of tips that Crimestoppers is receiving has increased since the announcement of their new technology was made.

As a veteran of more than 30 years in law enforcement, I have long believed that one of the keys to solving crimes and reducing crimes is an information link between the public and law enforcement agencies. My experience is that almost invariably, when a major crime is committed, there is a witness or an informant who has information that would assist in the investigation. The fact is that Crimestoppers has, through information conveyed to it by members of the public, helped law enforcement solve 12,000 major crimes in our metro area, including hundreds of murders.

The most important assurance that Crimestoppers can give the public is that all tips are anonymous. Crimestoppers does not need to know your name, your address, your phone number or your Social Security number. All that Crimestoppers seeks of you is information that will lead to the arrest and indictment of guilty persons. For that, Crimestoppers will give you a cash award and the thanks of the community for your good deed.

I am very proud of the great working relationship between Crimestoppers and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Darlene Cusanza does a superb job as Executive Director of Crimestoppers. We are also fortunate in having an excellent JPSO liaison officer with Crimestoppers in Lieutenant Bruce Harrison.

On Tuesday, March 20, Crimestoppers will hold their annual luncheon at the Downtown Hilton Hotel. I hope you can be there. I hope also that you will give your financial support to Crimestoppers. It is a great organization that does a wonderful job in the constant fight against crime.


An Impressive Recruit Class
For The JPSO Young Marines

I had the pleasure of meeting the members and their parents of the recruit class beginning training with the JPSO Young Marines and I’m very impressed by the enthusiasm of the kids and their parents.

I was impressed that so many of the adults were aware that the Young Marines emphasize a rejection of the drug culture and teach self-discipline, focus, organization, respect for others and goal-setting. One of the impressive Young Marines who is a drill instructor teaching the new recruits is JPSO Young Marines Corporal Michael Brisco. He joined the Young Marines as an 11-year-old and is now a four-year veteran who is smart, articulate and a great role model for younger boys and girls who might well wish to grow up to be just like Michael.

He is a student at the Thomas Jefferson High School in Gretna. Michael gives much of the credit for his development, as a Young Marine, as a son and as a teenager to his experiences with the Young Marine program. As is true of almost every child who has been through the Young Marine program, Michael has seen his grades improve over the last four years, he has increased focus for his school work and plans to go to college and graduate.

As with any successful organization there are many people who deserve credit for the Young Marines program. Among these are JPSO Sergeant Bill Jones; his assistant, JPSO Deputy Tammy Howard, and JPSO Captain Alex Norman who has overall responsibility for the Young Marine program. They are also assisted by a team of volunteers, some of whom are members of the JPSO and others who are parents of current or previous Young Marines.

In a sense, this program presented by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, is a gift to the community. We are glad to do it. The Young Marines have positively transformed the lives of hundreds of Jefferson Parish boys and girls. In 18 years, less than one percent of the Young Marines have gotten in trouble with the law. I am sure that the current JPSO Young Marines recruit class will forge an outstanding record in the highest traditions of the JPSO Young Marines.


A Wonderful Day To Be King of Argus

On Mardi Gras day, my cup runneth over with glad tidings. I never even dreamed that one day I would reign as the King of a great krewe like Argus on Fat Tuesday at a parade enjoyed by almost one million spectators.

Of course, you can imagine my pride in seeing my daughter, Sarah, escorted by her brother, Taylor, serve in the Argus court. And, I’m sure, the greatest pride was felt by my wife, Shawn, on seeing her husband and children in the spotlight on a picture-perfect day.

However, it was in my capacity as Sheriff of Jefferson Parish that I got a special thrill from the role of three JPSO marching units in the Argus parade. Leading the parade was the JPSO Honor Guard. Of course, they have been famous in Jefferson Parish for decades. The Honor Guard presents the national, state and parish colors on hundreds of special occasions and they are always a great source of pride for me.

In the parade, immediately behind the Honor Guard was the JPSO Young Marines Honor Guard. The Young Marines, established in Jefferson in 1995, have been teaching self-discipline, excellence, respect for others and a no-tolerance toward drugs policy to young people for almost 20 years. What especially pleases me is that virtually every boy and girl who has joined the JPSO Young Marines has improved their school grades. Less than one percent of all the Young Marines in the last 18 years have gotten into trouble with the law. That is an incredible record.

And, not least in any way, behind the JPSO Young Marines came the JPSO Band of Excellence. I began the Band of Excellence because I think that music, properly taught, has the capacity to promote self-discipline, goal-setting and ambition. I have been elated to see more than 100 middle school and high school students take on the challenge of excelling at music in the Band of Excellence. You cannot imagine how proud I was of the Band of Excellence on Mardi Gras day, knowing that, like the Young Marines, virtually every band member has improved his or her grades since joining the organization.

My family and I will be forever grateful to the Krewe of Argus for the opportunity to be in the spotlight on this special day. I am also grateful to the men and women of the JPSO who flawlessly, as usual, provided the security on the parade route that assured Jefferson Parish’s family-oriented Mardi Gras was at its very best in 2012.


A Great Example of Outstanding Police Work
Is Honored by American Legion Post 175

As Sheriff of Jefferson Parish, I can tell you that not a day goes by without outstanding examples of great police work and personal bravery by members of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office team. Very often, these acts of dedication and commitment receive no publicity. They are not featured in headlines or the six o’clock news. Usually, the only ones aware of these special acts are the members of the public who are benefited and the JPSO colleagues of the officers who put their lives on the line.

That is why I am especially pleased that a respected, admired organization like American Legion Post 175 of Metairie each year specifically honors some of our most outstanding police officers.

Along with their colleagues, I am very proud of the way that JPSO Deputy Lee Hardy, JPSO Deputy Micah Blange and JPSO Deputy Paul Theriot responded to an emergency call involving a knife-wielding assailant threatening a mother and her two children.

At the JPSO, we take very seriously our five-minute response time to emergency calls. In this instance, there were three JPSO deputies at the scene of the emergency within one minute and two more JPSO deputies on their heels a minute later. Even by our high standards, that is an incredible response.

Secondly, the way that these three officers came up with a plan as they ran down the hallway is a wonderful example of police teamwork. Third, it’s one thing to have a plan but it’s another to execute it perfectly while under stress. These three officers came up with a plan on the run and implemented it as though they had been rehearsing it for a week. That, to me, is a combination of great training, bravery, dedication to the job and a commitment to save the threatened lives of a mother and two children at great risk to themselves.

We are all grateful to the members of American Legion Post 175. When a respected, admired organization like the American Legion honors the JPSO and our officers, that’s like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. We appreciate the American Legion telling this story to the community. It seems to me there are two benefits of the American Legion awards. One benefit is to let our community know that the JPSO has never been better at our jobs than we are today. Another benefit is to tell the criminals that Jefferson Parish is very dangerous territory for them. Thanks again, American Legion Post 175.


JPSO Training Academy Is An Asset We Like To Share
With Others in the Law Enforcement Community

It gives all of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office great satisfaction when we see 52 officers from throughout Louisiana takes their seats in one of our JPSO Training Academy classrooms.

 From the very beginning, that was the vision and purpose for the Training Academy. After years of making do in buildings never intended for the purpose of housing a Training Academy we finally got a first-class facility designed for teaching. Of course, the Training Academy is the perfect place for the JPSO to train our recruits who seek to join our ranks and also for in-service training. But it was always our hope that in addition to our uses, that other federal, state and local police agencies that did not have their own training facilities would want to borrow our classrooms for teaching purposes.

 And that is how 52 officers from 18 different law enforcement agencies throughout the region came to the JPSO Training Academy to listen to wise counsel and direction from an experienced expert on traffic stops who works for a Police Department in Hoover, Alabama.

 I thought it was especially nice that Officer Alex Gonzales who has been making and studying traffic stops for more than 30 years not only praised our Training Academy facilities but also our outstanding faculty and staff.

 I sometimes think that Major Kerry Najolia, Commander of the Training Academy, his faculty and staff don’t get enough credit and praise for the great work that they do. Everyone who uses our facilities invariably ends up talking about our great building and exemplary staff.

 So our doors will continue to be open to the law enforcement community. We’re glad to share our space and the wisdom of our officers. In our view, we’re all teammates on the same team.


JPSO Reserves Are An Integral Part Of Our Team

The remarkable thing about the men and women who make up the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Reserves is that they continue to ask for even more responsibilities.

These individuals are an integral part of the JPSO team. Their work as members of the JPSO Patrol Division is absolutely outstanding. At Mardi Gras, the Reserves take responsibility for a long stretch of the parade route on Veterans Boulevard. They are vigilant, committed and effective. In large measure, they are the ones who deserve the credit for upholding and maintaining the Jefferson Parish tradition of a family-oriented Mardi Gras.

And who are these individuals who on average spend 50 hours or more each month in their respective roles as Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Reserves? Most of these officers have full-time jobs and family responsibilities. We require that they receive and pass the same intensive training that is required of regular JPSO officers. Reserve officers receive no compensation for the hours that they spend carrying out their JPSO responsibilities. When we talk to them about their motivation to work so hard and diligently as Reserve officers, they invariably reply that Jefferson Parish has been good to them and their families and working as Reserve officers is their way of giving back to Jefferson.

I am very proud of our Reserves and the team that we have put together to run Reserve operations. At the helm is JPSO Chief Deputy John Thevenot. He receives excellent cooperation from JPSO Deputy Chief Morgan Nalty, Commander of all our JPSO reserves, and JPSO Major Craig Bourgeois, Commander of the JPSO Reserve Patrol Division

You’ll see them and their colleagues hard at work should you attend any Mardi Gras parades. If you get the opportunity and are so inclined, you may want to thank them for the work that they do for Jefferson. I know they’ll be pleased if you do.

If you would like more information about how you might join the ranks of the JPSO Reserves, please call our Personnel Office at 376-2333.


The Young Marines Program Changes Lives
Of Boys and Girls For the Better

Parents constantly tell us that the best thing that has happened to their son or daughter occurred when they joined the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marine program.

I cannot begin to count the number of times since 1995 that a parent or guardian has come to a Young Marine graduation and facetiously asked, “What happened to the kid that I sent you? Who is this stranger who says, `Yes, sir,’ and ‘No, ma’m,’? Who is this kid who helps his brothers and sisters, voluntarily does his homework and treats others with respect?” The answer of course is that the JPSO Young Marine program transforms boys and girls, helping them grow into responsible adults. For those who accept it, there is almost something magical about the Young Marine credo of self-discipline, personal goal-setting, physical fitness, excellence at military drill, respect for others and academic achievement.

Virtually every Young Marine has improved his or her grades, many going from mediocrity in the classroom to excellence. Young Marines pledge not to use illegal drugs. Less than one percent of all Young Marines since 1995 have gotten in trouble with the law. Young Marines grow into mature, thoughtful teenagers. That has certainly been the case with JPSO First Sergeant Joshua Aikman, just selected as the “Young Marine of the Year” for Louisiana. I have seen it happen with him and with hundreds before him.

We will be starting another Young Marine class in a few months and are already being inundated by applications from Jefferson Parish boys and girls on both the East and West Banks. If you would like more information about the Young Marine program, please contact with JPSO Sergeant Bill Jones or JPSO Deputy Tammy Howard at 363-5694. And, I promise to go along with the gag if you come to the Young Marine graduation of your son and daughter and ask me, “Whatever happened to the kid that I sent you? And, who is this stranger who is so helpful around the house and even makes his bed every morning?”


Congratulations, Lieutenant Heno,
We’re All Proud of You

The news that JPSO Lieutenant Terri Heno, a 24-year veteran, graduated from the FBI National Academy in December is wonderful to hear.

It was some years ago that I graduated from the FBI Academy but I still remember the physical drills that pushed us to our limits and the final exams that would have given Einstein problems. Great educational institutions push their students to their limits and require their best efforts and best thinking. The FBI National Academy is one of the world’s great educational institutions for those of us in law enforcement.

Lieutenant Heno joins a select group of her JPSO colleagues as graduates of the FBI National Academy. The mantra that I preach is that education and technology are the edge that law enforcement has over criminals. To keep our community safe, we have to be smarter than the criminals that we pursue and we need to be able to use our technology – from computers to radios to cameras to our Crime Lab – to capture them and help the District Attorney convict them.

I am also pleased to learn that Lieutenant Heno is within a few hours of graduation from Loyola University, with a degree in criminal justice. Like many of her fellow JPSO officers enrolled at Loyola, she has demonstrated great tenacity, taking a course or two each semester for many years. She will be entitled to great elation and self-satisfaction when she crosses the stage to receive her Loyola diploma.

My hope is that many of the younger women who have joined the JPSO within the last several years will see Lieutenant Heno and other female ranking officers as role models and mentors. Forty years ago, when women first entered the ranks of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office they had to overcome many obstacles and prejudices that no longer exist. Today, as is true for men in law enforcement, the sky is the limit. Personal ambition, dedication, commitment and good judgment will take any police officer as far as he or she wishes to go. Lieutenant Heno has set high goals for herself and has made herself a fine role model for the younger officers who are just now beginning their JPSO careers.


When We Get 171 Guns Off The Streets,
That’s A Good Day’s Work

I want to both thank and commend the Orleans-Jefferson Gun By-Back Coalition, a non-profit group that works diligently to help law enforcement get guns off the streets of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.

Working closely with us, they have recently bought 171 guns ranging from revolvers and heavy assault weapons. The Coalition raised the money to purchase the weapons and then turned them over to us. We checked carefully to be sure that none of the guns that the Coalition purchased could be connected to crimes in our area or anywhere else in the nation. When the check is complete, the guns will be transported to a foundry and destroyed.

It is probably well that I should emphasize that I am what is known as pro-gun. I am a strong advocate of the Second Amendment of our U.S. Constitution that says any law-abiding citizen has a right to own and use guns. I am in favor of the use of guns for hunting, marksmanship and the protection of our homes and families. But, like many of my colleagues in law enforcement, I am deeply troubled by the easy access to guns in our society. Who among was not horrified by the recent murder of an 11-year-old child in his home by a bullet fired by a gang of four men shooting at one of their rivals. They missed the rival but the bullet killed the little boy. We have arrested the four individuals who allegedly are the shooters but even if they are convicted, it will not bring back that promising little boy whose mother did all she could to shield him from the violence that sometimes erupts on our streets.

Very often, criminals obtain guns through burglaries and thefts. We constantly ask gun owners, for example, not to keep guns in unlocked vehicles. Weapons stolen from vehicles are a prime source of firearms for criminals.

On the plus side, we have groups like the Orleans-Jefferson Gun By-Back Coalition that work diligently to get guns off the streets. As in the past, an amazing collection of firearms was gathered by the latest buy-back program on the East and West Banks of Jefferson Parish. We gathered old guns and new guns. There were many revolvers and plenty of rifles. There were shotguns and heavy assault weapons that would have been more appropriate in the hands of U.S. Rangers rather than civilians.

Many thanks to the Orleans-Jefferson Gun By-Back Coalition. We appreciate your good work and your support of law enforcement.


How To Get Ready For A Career In Law Enforcement?
Intensive Training A Large Part of the Answer

I believe in training. Intensive training. For a police officer, training should take place in the classroom, at the firing range and on the street. Police work can be an unforgiving business. For an officer assigned to dangerous work like the JPSO Patrol Division, a mistake or an error in judgment can have catastrophic consequences.

That is why we are working intensively with 16 rookie JPSO deputies, all of whom are graduates of the Training Academy and have passed the state certification exam required of all police officers. These rookies are joining our Patrol Division, the front line of the JPSO. Because they have spent a year or more staffing the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center, we are putting them through an intensive re-familiarization of the training they received at the Academy.

I am especially appreciative of the efforts of Major Kerry Najolia, Commander of the Training Academy; Major Vic Amstutz, Commander of the 4th District of the Patrol Division, and the JPSO veteran officers who have agreed to serve as Field Training Officers to help the rookies get ready for the situations they will encounter on the streets of Jefferson Parish.

The training that the rookies will get will be as realistic as it can be because they will be driving patrol cars and responding to real calls on the radio. They will be studying a massive JPSO Patrol Division handbook that will tell them what they should be doing. They will be riding with experienced Field Training Officers who will help them cope with the situations that they encounter. The rookies will be graded by their Field Training Officers. What we want from these rookies is accountability, hard work, enthusiasm, responsibility, integrity and an ability to learn from their mistakes.

In the six years that have passed since Hurricane Katrina, we have seen massive changes come to our Patrol Division. Seventy percent of the officers working in the Patrol Division have joined the JPSO since Katrina. Many of the former Patrol Division officers who had 15, 20 or 25 years’ experience have gone on to other assignments or have departed the JPSO. So it is absolutely essential that these rookie officers fit into their new assignments and excel from the very beginning.


The Band of Excellence Is On Its Way To The Top

It’s an unfortunate reality that we are often disappointed when well-intended projects or efforts fall short of the goals that were set for them. It’s just a fact of life that even the best-intended, most virtuous undertaking can fall short of our expectations.

That is why I could not help but be grateful and appreciative at the recent Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Band of Excellence Christmas concert. It was wonderful and all that I could have hoped for. There were nearly 100 musicians playing, the music was excellent, the audience filled with applause and appreciation and all of us who have had some role in the development of the Band of Excellence could only be pleased.

Almost two years ago, when I began the Band of Excellence, it was a project filled with hope and lots of uncertainty. In my 30 years in law enforcement, I – like my colleagues – have seen thousands of young lives end in violent tragedy or in prison. Often these young people have been blessed with talent that has been squandered. As a would-be musician with great enthusiasm but minimal talent, I have long believed that music can open doors to achievement and opportunity. That is why I came up with the idea of a JPSO Band of Excellence that would provide instruments, instruction and mentoring to the talented young people of our region who all too often can be seen going through their lives with little direction, little incentive to excel and little hope for their futures.

I am happy to report that the Band of Excellence has indeed excelled. There are so many people to thank. We were especially fortunate in finding a great band director in Hezekiah Brinson, an incredibly gifted teacher, motivator, mentor and musician. He and his assistant band directors, who also do an excellent job, have become surrogate parents to the children who have found a second home in the Band of Excellence. I am also grateful to band coordinator Renee Washington, to JPSO Deputy Chief Richard Rodrigue who also coordinates the Cops and Clergy program, to Chief Rodrigue’s staff and to the volunteers who work tirelessly to make the band great.

Finally, I want to thank the boys and girls who are so much fun to be around and who perform so beautifully. Virtually every one of them has improved their school grades. They have improved as musicians and as people. We are proud that 11 members of the Band of Excellence have already won college scholarships and a dozen more are under consideration for scholarships. That is so important and it makes me so proud. I am also grateful to the parents and guardians of the children who have joined the Band of Excellence. We really have become brothers and sisters. But there is still much to do and I look forward to the Band of Excellence’s growth and development In 2012.


Let’s All Do Our Best To Assure
A Safe New Year’s Holiday

At the beginning of 2011, I had high hopes that we might repeat our successes of 2010 when traffic fatalities in Jefferson Parish were reduced to four, an all-time low in the modern history of our parish.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Four traffic fatalities in the first two weeks of December have raised this year’s total to 10. Now, as we celebrate the coming of the New Year, I am asking everyone who will be celebrating the holiday please don’t drink and drive.

After 30 years in law enforcement, I know, sadly, that there are thousands of drivers who think they can drink and drive safely. It is very difficult to prove to them that they are placing themselves and their passengers at great risk when they drink and drive, no matter how well they think they can manage it. The fact is that 70 percent of all fatalities in Jefferson Parish are alcohol-related. The odds are not on your side when you drink and drive.

We are certainly not against parties and celebrations. But we do ask that you either bring along a designated driver or call a taxicab if you are going to be drinking. I can tell you from my own experience as a police officer that ending the year with a terrible crash that causes death or injuries is an awful way to start the New Year.

In 2012, the Traffic Division and all the men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office will renew our efforts to reduce traffic fatalities, injuries and property damage from auto crashes. It is our hope that a combination of enforcement and education will help us reduce the number of fatalities in the coming year.

Please have a safe New Year’s holiday and allow me to extend to you and yours the best wishes of the JPSO for a happy, prosperous and safe 2012.


JPSO Officers Devote More Than 5,000 Hours
Of Intense Surveillance To Assure Holiday Safety

I was extremely pleased when the executives from East and West Bank Jefferson Parish malls reported that shoppers had enjoyed what is quite likely the safest holiday shopping in the modern history of our parish.

More than 75 of our Reserve Officers and plainclothes detectives from our Special Investigations Bureau devoted more than 5,000 hours to intensively patrolling East and West Bank shopping malls in police units with their top warning lights flashing. That was apparently too much for the criminals who might have contemplated muggings or purse snatchings. Mel Grodsky, a long-time manager at Lakeside Shopping Center, said this was an instance where police officers functioned as partners in positive public relations with Jefferson Parish merchants.

I’m very proud of the men and women of the JPSO who participated in this effort. In much the same way that I am a strong proponent of placing police officers in Jefferson Parish public schools so that serious teachers and students can go about their business in safety, I am also a strong proponent of using police officers to assure that holiday shoppers can patronize the stores of their choice in absolute confidence that they will not be molested, robbed or intimidated. Working with Chief Deputy John Thevenot, Captain Greg Bourgeois and Captain Morgan Nalty, we set a high standard for our men and women – we want shopping in Jefferson Parish from Thanksgiving through Christmas to be as safe and tranquil as anywhere in the nation.

Based on all the reports we have received, it appears that we have met the goal that we set for ourselves. At the same time, we are already planning for next year’s holiday season. It is our intention that shopping during the holiday season in Jefferson Parish will be just as safe as or even safer than this year.

On behalf of all the men and women of the JPSO, I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season filled with joy, good will and love.


Defining The Christmas Spirit

I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of the way that so many JPSO employees chose to participate in the annual drive to provide Christmas presents for patients at Children's Hospital who might otherwise not find anything under the tree on Christmas morning.

It is absolutely true that no one has ever chosen to enter the law enforcement profession because it's a good way to become wealthy. The men and women of the JPSO have to be very good at budgeting or they won't have enough dollars to go around. Yet, so many of them choose to include in their Christmas budgets money to buy a gift for a child they will never meet.

Of course, we're in very good company in that regard. The JPSO is one of hundreds of companies and organizations in the Metro New Orleans area that participates in the annual drive to provide Christmas presents for the patients at Children's Hospital, as well as the brothers and sisters of the patients.

All of this should be credited to Alex Fisher, a West Bank civic activist and volunteer who started this tremendous effort some 15 years ago. It has now grown to the point that it includes hundreds of volunteers and thousands of presents. It seems to me that Mr. Fisher's creation keeps getting bigger with each passing year and that is a wonderful thing.

In the end, I think that one way to define the true Christmas Spirit is the giving of a gift to someone who you don't know who might otherwise do without and would endure a very bleak Christmas.

It seems to me that is what Alex Fisher and all those who participate in this wonderful volunteer effort have done - they have extended themselves to bring Christmas to children they will in all likelihood never meet who would otherwise think that Santa forgot them or overlooked them.

I hope that in the course of your Christmas season that you will have an opportunity to extend your Christmas spirit to someone in need. That is surely the real spirit of Christmas.


Refitted Helicopter Is Another Aspect
Of Our Preparations In The Event of a Major Disaster

Six years after Hurricane Katrina, we are still enhancing and expanding the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office inventory of equipment that we will need in the event of a hurricane or major flooding.

I was especially pleased when the JPSO Laser (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) was able to creatively combine several federal grants to fund the complete refitting of our long-time Bell Huey helicopter whose beginnings go back to the Vietnam War. That meant that Jefferson Parish taxpayers wouldn’t have to pick up the tab for the refitting of the Huey as a good-as-new 21st Century helicopter.

The rebuilt Huey now has all the equipment and avionics of a brand-new helicopter, including a 200-foot rescue hoist and the most up-to-date communications and navigation equipment. Refitting the Huey also meshes with our philosophy that when a major disaster threatens, it is absolutely essential that we have the latest and best equipment to protect the community.

With its capacity of 13 passengers, the refitted Huey will be able to use its 200-foot rescue hoist to save Jefferson Parish residents stranded on rooftops, porches, boats and water-filled streets. We learned the hard way during Hurricane Katrina that a modern helicopter with hoisting equipment is as valuable as gold and silver.

One of the lessons of Hurricane Katrina is the importance of communications, not only between JPSO vehicles and mobile command centers but also with other federal, state and parish law enforcement agencies. The refitted Huey helicopter has the latest communications equipment and, in an emergency, should give us clear communications links.

Of course, this superb new helicopter will also be invaluable on the scores of occasions when the JPSO responds to calls for help from boat owners, stranded hunters and missing persons. Congratulations to the LASER Division on figuring out how to use federal grants to fund the refitting of our JPSO helicopter. I know that in a short time we will be able to report that it has helped save lives. And, in the event of a hurricane, it will be invaluable.


Please, Don’t Drink and Drive

I certainly know that I’ve written it before but it can’t be repeated too often – please don’t drink and drive. I know that we have entered the holiday time zone and that you are being deluged with invitations to share in the good feelings that make the holidays so special.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is certainly not against good times and having fun. We are not opposed to consuming alcoholic beverages, within reason. But we are unalterably opposed to drinking and driving. On countless occasions each year, we see up close the consequences of drinking and driving. No matter how long one is in law enforcement, you never get used to seeing what happens to human bodies when they are involved in a high-speed crash. This is especially true when it comes to children. And, in Jefferson Parish, more than 75 percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related. That is true also of a significant number of traffic accidents and injuries in Jefferson.

For the last two years, we have conducted a program of enforcement and education with the aim of convincing you and thousands of others who drive in Jefferson Parish that it is a terrible idea to drink and drive. In 2008, we had 13 traffic fatalities in Jefferson and in 2009 we had 17 traffic fatalities. That was simply unacceptable to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and, hopefully, to you also.

In 2010, we began to concentrate on getting drunken drivers off our streets, both through enforcement and education. We were very pleased when the number of traffic fatalities in 2010 fell to four. This year, so far, we have seen six traffic fatalities in Jefferson Parish but the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays lie before us.

I hope that our educational efforts have gotten through to you, your family and your friends. If you drink, don’t drive. When you drink, line up a designated driver or call a taxi. If you don’t drink and drive, thank you. If you don’t let members of your family or your friends drink and drive, thank you even more. Let’s make the next four weeks among the safest in Jefferson Parish history. Please believe me when I tell you that we are very serious about this. Keeping our roads safe this holiday season is going to take good judgment on everyone’s part.


In Hard Times When There Is So Much Need,
It’s An Honor To Work On JPSO Thanksgiving Baskets

We all know what a tough year this has been from an economic standpoint. In Jefferson Parish, many have lost their jobs or had their working hours reduced. The Food Banks throughout the parish report more people in line for free food than ever before. Some Food Banks have had to temporarily close their doors because their shelves have been emptied.

So, there was a special urgency this year to our annual efforts to prepare beautiful, full Thanksgiving baskets for needy families on the East and West Banks of Jefferson. We got a special break when our friends at Rouse’s came in with a terrific bid that enabled us to prepare more Thanksgiving baskets than ever before. This year, we gave out 2,000 Thanksgiving baskets.

We are also indebted to Second Harvest who again allowed us to use their facilities in Elmwood to pack, prepare and organize for delivery the 2,000 Thanksgiving baskets. It is a huge job, I can tell you, but our volunteers put together a very organized system that involved all of us and worked.

Then, there is the special debt that we owe the Jefferson Parish clergy. These are pastors and priests, most of whom participate in the Cops & Clergy program that is coordinated by JPSO Deputy Chief Richard Rodrigue. One of our concerns is that we want the Thanksgiving baskets to those who need them the most. No one knows the needs of the community better than the churches and the clergy who administer Jefferson Parish’s houses of worship. I am absolutely certain that those who received the Thanksgiving baskets were the most needy and had their hearts warmed when they saw the contents of those filled baskets.

In addition to the volunteers who packed the baskets, we are indebted to the men and women of the JPSO Patrol Division in each of our four districts who delivered hundreds of baskets. There is great satisfaction in helping those who would do without on Thanksgiving without our help. Most importantly, I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday that will hopefully bring together all of the special people closest to your heart.


Help Jefferson Parish Celebrate A Holiday Season
Free of Traffic Fatalities

The key to reducing or eliminating traffic fatalities is to convince drivers that drinking and driving is a terrible combination that carries with it the real possibilities of a tragedy that might include death or serious injury.

We are trying to accomplish this by a combination of enforcement and education. On the enforcement side, we are working with other police departments in Jefferson Parish to set up DWI Checkpoints on the East and West Banks. These DWI Checkpoints have been facilitated by a new mobile vehicle that enables us to test persons suspected of drinking and driving, including taking blood samples.

In addition, we assign JPSO officers from the Traffic Enforcement Division and the Patrol Division to “saturation patrols” that specifically look for drivers who exhibit the traits of those who drink and drive. We are being aided in this by grants from the State Highway Commission that is working throughout Louisiana to reduce traffic fatalities related to drinking and driving.

We are also being aided in this by Jefferson Parish’s Traffic Court judges who take a very serious view of those who drink and drive. They are sentencing those convicted of DWI to jail or loss of their driver’s licenses.

What we are hoping all of this leads to is the conclusion by those who drink that they shouldn’t drive. We want them to use a designated driver or call a taxicab. We know that we are making progress. In 2008, there were 17 traffic fatalities in unincorporated Jefferson Parish. In 2009, the number of traffic fatalities was reduced to 13. We had a major breakthrough in 2010, with just four traffic fatalities all year in unincorporated Jefferson. This year, as of November 1, we have recorded six traffic fatalities in Jefferson Parish. Our hope is that we can conclude the year, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, without another traffic fatality.

You can help, both by not drinking and driving, and by driving defensively whenever you get behind the wheel. The key to defensive driving is to be alert and anticipate that one of the drivers around you might do something that is both reckless and dangerous. Defensive driving can save your life. Using a designated driver or calling a taxicab to take you home can also save your life. Please help us have a safe 2011 holiday season.


Thanks To All Who Attended JPSO Day At The Park,
We Had A Great Time Too

I am grateful to all the thousands of Jefferson Parish residents and residents of other parishes who came out to enjoy the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Day At The Park. It was a beautiful day, everyone was in a great mood and I am especially appreciative of all the support that our department enjoys.

It seems to me that the turnout – the largest in the five years that we’ve presented JPSO Day At The Park – is symbolic of the wonderful support that the Sheriff’s Office receives every day of the year from the community that we protect.

JPSO Day At The Park gives us a chance to show our capabilities and our equipment. This year, we presented extensive exhibitions from the LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) Division, the JPSO SWAT Team, the JPSO Traffic Enforcement Division, our JPSO K-9 dogs and the JPSO Band of Excellence.

But I have always thought the most important element of JPSO Day At The Park is the chance the occasion presents for our officers to meet the public they serve in a relaxed, friendly environment. I think that the meetings and conversations that I have with members of the public during Day At The Park are especially meaningful and informative for me. I am especially pleased to see so many families – grandparents, parents and children – enjoying JPSO Day At The Park.

I am also grateful to the men and women of the JPSO who take our Day At The Park very seriously and work hard to make sure that our presentations are the right mix of information, education and entertainment. We are very proud of our search and rescue work, our pursuit of dangerous criminals and our crack down on intoxicated drivers. This is very serious work but we enjoy putting on exhibitions that are realistic without being dangerous.

If you are one of the 1,500 men and women of the JPSO, thank you for helping us make the Day At The Park a glowing presentation of the work that we do 365 days of the year. If you are a member of the public who brought your family to JPSO Day At The Park, thank you for your support and interest. We hope to see you again next year at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Day At The Park.


Despite JPSO Expertise at Interviewing and Interrogation,
We Always Have Room For Improvement and Much To Learn

In the 30 years that I have been associated with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, we have always taken pride in the expertise our officers bring to interviewing and interrogation. We are a police department that clears more than 90 percent of all the murders in unincorporated Jefferson Parish with arrests. In police circles, our department is famous for its ability to assign 25 or 30 officers to the solution of a major crime. Those cases almost always end with an arrest and a conviction.

So you might wonder, if all that is so, why we would invite Dr. Steven Rhoads to the JPSO Training Academy to lecture police officers from eight Louisiana law enforcement agencies on interviewing and interrogation?

The answer is that we know that we don’t know everything. In the past, younger JPSO officers learned how to interview and interrogate by watching senior officers at work. Knowing how to interview and interrogate was a learned skill, passed from one JPSO generation to the next. From the positive results we obtained, it was clear that we had much to be proud of.

But, I believe that we should never stand still. I think we ought to question everything that we do. We should not have any sacred cows that can’t be questioned. So, when I learned that Dr. Rhoads, who is one of the nation’s leading experts on police interviewing and interrogation, was interested in coming to our Training Academy to spend a week talking to police officers about his special area of expertise, I was delighted. So were my colleagues in seven other law enforcement agencies who agreed to send some of their top officers to the Training Academy to hear what Dr. Rhoads had to say.

Everyone who attended the week-long seminar agreed that they learned a lot. Dr. Rhoads has some interesting theories about the body language of persons being interviewed or interrogated. He also has done a lot of thinking about the subconscious clues that people emit when being questioned by police officers. I was also pleased that Dr. Rhoads emphasized the ethical part of the investigative process. Dr. Rhoads particularly made a point I agree with 100 percent – it isn’t right or acceptable for police to coerce a confession from someone who is weak, befuddled and unable to cope with the situation.

I believe in training. I think good training techniques make good police officers better. I’m grateful to Dr. Rhoads for visiting Jefferson Parish. I hope he comes back soon.


The Music Is Just Part of the Package
At The JPSO Band of Excellence

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Band of Excellence is, for better or worse, my brain child. I have been in law enforcement for more than 30 years and I have seen thousands of young people with great potential lose their way and go spiraling into hopeless lives of drugs, crime, despair and prison. The question is, is there anything we can do to save hundreds or thousands of these children, many of whom are talented and gifted but totally misdirected?

As a frustrated musician who wishes he was better at it, I have long believed that in the study of music there is a self-discipline that can set the student on the road to achievement. The JPSO Band of Excellence is an outgrowth of my belief that we can create a musical organization where middle school and high school musicians can develop their skills, improve their grades and their conduct and, most importantly, become such expert musicians that they will be offered university marching band scholarships.

Last year, in the first year of the JPSO Band of Excellence, we saw 11 senior members of our band accept university music scholarships. A university scholarship is like a light at the end of the tunnel for a youngster from a low-income family who previously believed he or she was pre-doomed to failure.

This year, the Band of Excellence has attracted 89 middle and high school students from Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. They are excelling as musicians and as people. Some members of the Band of Excellence previously had brushes with the law. I am very proud that in our two years of work, no members of the Band of Excellence have gotten in trouble with the law. I think the members of the Band of Excellence understand that they have been given a very unique and special opportunity. If they blow their opportunity, then shame on them.

My dream is to one day to see the emergence of a JPSO Band of Excellence 300 musicians strong and ranked as one of the best high school marching bands in the nation. I think we can do it. But we are proceeding one step at a time. I invite you to join me and the JPSO Band of Excellence at our annual Day At The Park celebration on November 5 at Lafreniere Park. The Band of Excellence will perform and I hope you will be as thrilled, elated and pleased as I am.

No discussion of the Band of Excellence would be complete without expressing my sincere thanks to all of those who have helped the band excel. I am especially grateful to Band Director Hezekiah Brinson; Assistant Band Director John Summers; Percussion Instructors Thomas Dean and Lyndon Red, and Administrator Renee Washington.

Special thanks also to Band of Excellence Executive Director JPSO Deputy Chief Richard Rodrigue; Executive Assistant JPSO Sergeant David Green, and Executive Assistant JPSO Detective Devin Rogers.


National Night Out Was A Great Success,
Thanks To All Those Who Worked On It

Wherever I went in Jefferson Parish on National Night Out Against Crime, I found tremendous enthusiasm not just for the fight against criminals but also in favor of raising the quality of life in Jefferson Parish to the highest level we’ve ever achieved.

I was so pleased that there were so many National Night Out Against Crime parties across the parish. This may have been our biggest, best National Night Out Against Crime ever. The decision to move the date of National Night Out Against Crime from August to October certainly helped. In our part of the country, it’s a lot more seasonable in October than it is in August. But, it wasn’t just the weather than made this year’s National Night Out so memorable. There is a genuine optimism in the air. Many neighborhood leaders, like the Reverend Melvin Zeno, Pastor at St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church in Marrero, told me that the community has stabilized, there is optimism in the air and people are working together to improve the quality of life. Reverend Zeno also had good things to say about the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. He said that our officers have more than ever become an integral part of the neighborhood, working closely with church, school and civic leaders to make Marrero a safe and vibrant community.

One of the benefits of National Night Out Against Crime is that it brings us together in a pleasant environment where we have a chance to talk. And that doesn’t just benefit Reverend Zeno and me. I was delighted to see folks at all of these National Night Out events exchanging information to help them look out for each other. In the six years that have passed since Hurricane Katrina, I have seen neighborhoods in transition become stable and unified.

As pleasing as our progress is, we still have much to do. If you don’t have a Neighborhood Watch program in your area, please consider starting one. For assistance, you can call the JPSO Community Relations Division at 376-2401. We’ll be glad to help you get your Neighborhood Watch program started. You’ll find that having a Neighborhood Watch program will help you develop a closer relationship with the JPSO Patrol Division officers who have responsibility for your area. We are very serious when we tell you that we want you to call the JPSO if you see suspicious-looking persons in your neighborhood. And, of course, if you have an emergency, we will respond in five minutes or less.

Thanks again to all those who participated in National Night Out Against Crime. I think we are more united and more alert than ever before. With your help, we hope to make the remainder of 2011 and 2012 stellar years in the on-going fight against crime.


JPSO Is A Prideful Organization That Wants
To Keep Getting Better

I’ve been part of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office for more than 30 years and one of the phrases I often select to describe our organization is “motivated by pride.”

We are a very proud organization, all 1,500 men and women who make up the JPSO. We’re proud that Jefferson Parish is one of the safest communities of its size in the United States. We’re proud of our work ethic. At the JPSO, our five-minute response time to emergency calls is a commitment. And, we’re very proud of our relationship with the community that we serve. This remarkable tradition was shaped and nurtured by my predecessor and mentor, the late Sheriff Harry Lee who served in that capacity for 28 years. My goal is to make sure that this wonderful tradition continues for many decades to come.

One of my strongest beliefs is that training molds organizations and individuals. I believe in the virtues of instruction. That is why we have brought Dr. Neal Trautman to the JPSO Training Academy. Dr. Trautman is one of the nation’s leading authorities on law enforcement leadership and ethics. He is currently teaching a group of JPSO officers, ranging from deputies to lieutenants. Dr. Trautman’s reputation is such that police officers from Tennessee and Mississippi are also part of the group.

Dr. Trautman believes that police scandals destroy the spirit and the credibility of law enforcement organizations. He also believes that when a police scandal occurs, there is inevitably a moment when someone in a ranking position gains knowledge of the misdeed that has occurred and then must make a fateful decision – is his or her greater loyalty to a buddy who has failed to do the right thing or to the organization and the community that they have taken an oath to serve.

Dr. Trautman is very kind in complimenting the JPSO for having the courage to confront this issue with candor and honesty. To my mind, there is no other responsible choice. The potential for an ethical failure is the elephant in the room in every police organization – or, for that matter, at every corporation and government agency. I believe the best way to address the challenge of ethical failure is to face it squarely and to try to teach the individuals in the organization that their greatest responsibility is to the institution – in this case, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Dr. Trautman’s dictum is simple – tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may. We welcome Dr. Trautman to the JPSO Training Academy. He is a great addition to our faculty.


Another Fine Achievement For The JPSO Young Marines

I am often pleasantly surprised by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines who regularly exceed my expectations. They did it yet again recently when they raised a considerable sum of money for the American Heart Association.

This story really begins with the JPSO commitment to the American Heart Association. There is scarcely a person among our 1,500 employees who has not been affected by illness or death of a close friend, colleague or relative due to heart disease. The support that the JPSO family gladly gives to the AHA grows out of our experiences with friends, colleagues and relatives battling heart disease. We all want to do what we can to aid heart disease research, patient care and education.

But, that is an adult perspective. When we invited the JPSO Young Marines to participate in the AHA fundraising effort, we were not at all sure that Young Marines, aged eight to 18, would grasp the concept and importance of trying to eradicate heart disease. Well, we were wrong. The JPSO Young Marines, in their typical enthusiastic manner, jumped on the idea of raising funds for the AHA. They came up with the idea of a skating party at the Airline Skate Center and sold more than 500 tickets at $10 per ticket. While we’re still figuring out the exact figure of their contribution to the American Heart Association, it is going to be a very significant number.

Of course, we are all proud of the JPSO Young Marines. It is clear that they have a much deeper and more mature appreciation of the work of the American Heart Association and the doctors, researchers and nurses than we had imagined. As several of the Young Marines were pleased to point out, they not only raised a lot of money for the American Heart Association but they had a great time at the skating party. Congratulations, Young Marines.


National Night Out Against Crime
And Crimestoppers Are Two
Causes We Should All Support

I am really glad that we have moved National Night Out Against Crime from August to October. There have been times in August when it was so hot I was concerned that someone might pass out. This year’s National Night Out will be a lot more seasonable.

But what won’t have changed is the importance of National Night Out Against Crime. It is an opportunity for neighbors to bond, to exchange landline and cell phone numbers and to review their respective schedules so they can look out for each other and their respective properties. I am very much aware of the home invasions and carjacking’s that have taken place in both Orleans and Jefferson and I hope that you are also. We need to be looking out for our neighbors now, more than ever. While National Night Out Against Crime is always fun, there is also a serious side to it. If you reside in Jefferson Parish and don’t know if your neighborhood is planning a National Night Out Against Crime party, please call JPSO Captain Alex Norman at 376-2401. Captain Norman or his staff can tell you of the nearest National Night Out Against Crime party to your home. Please participate. And, if you haven’t yet exchanged phone numbers with your nearest neighbors, this is a good time to do so

I also want to call your attention to the Crimestoppers program. They do a superb job of collecting tips that lead to arrests and convictions of criminals. In Jefferson Parish in 2011, Crimestopper tips have so far led to arrests in 87 major crimes, including two homicides. Crimestoppers is an invaluable aid to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. JPSO Lieutenant Bruce Harrison, a 28-year veteran, and Darlene Cusanza, who has headed Crimestoppers for 15 years, are a great team. Working together they have used tips to break hundreds of major cases that might otherwise never have been solved.

I know that we all have a long list of worthy good non-profit causes in our community that we like to help support financially. But I can tell you that it would be difficult to find a better investment in the safety and quality of life of our community than Crimestoppers. I hope you will join me in becoming a Crimestoppers backer. It is a wonderful organization with a great staff and a group of outstanding volunteers. Crimestoppers deserves the support of all of us.


Exploring New Ways of Cracking Down
On Human Trafficking and Prostitution

Earlier this year, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office began closing down motels that operated as fronts for prostitution rackets. We even had one of these motels demolished. From my point of view, this is a “quality of life” issue. Why should Jefferson Parish neighborhoods that include residential areas, churches and schools be blighted by havens for prostitution?

Now, with the help of many others, we are cracking down on both prostitution and the human trafficking racket that through various means, including strong arm tactics, recruits girls and women to work as prostitutes.

We’re very proud to be part of a new coalition of law enforcement agencies and non-profit social work groups that are determined to close down organized prostitution rings and those who either muscle or lure females into prostitution.

Much credit goes to Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell who has taken the lead in this effort. His associate, Assistant Attorney General Katherine Green, has been working closely with the JPSO and other law enforcement agencies, including the New Orleans Police Department, Immigration officials, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Border Patrol, the State Police, the U.S. Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau and the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office. My colleague, New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas, has also taken the lead in this effort. During his tenure as police chief in Nashville, he became aware of the work of Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest, who helped found programs in Nashville that provided gainful, fulfilling alternatives for women who had survived the violence and addictions that are commonplace in prostitution. Ms. Stevens has visited with JPSO officials. We are hopeful that non-profit organizations in Metro New Orleans will borrow from Ms. Stevens’ successes and possibly create some new programs in our region that might help in the transition of women and girls from prostitution to education programs and career opportunities.

All of this constitutes new holistic approaches to the age-old problems associated with prostitution. The men and women involved in this effort have found that JPSO Captain Tom Angelica is one of the most knowledgeable experts in the field of efforts to curb vice. Captain Angelica is a 45-year JPSO veteran who is an innovative and original thinker.

With the help of Louisiana’s newly-rewritten laws on human trafficking and the many law enforcement and social welfare agencies working together, we have a chance to stamp out organized prostitution in our state and provide alternatives to women and girls who have been trapped in this sad and illegal industry.


Captain Campbell is a 35-Year Veteran
Who Loves His Work and Inspires Others

Like many of my colleagues at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, I am an admirer of all that JPSO Captain Tim Campbell has accomplished and of the achievements that lie ahead of him.

He has enjoyed a remarkable 35-year career at the JPSO, topped off by his current role as Commander of the JPSO Street Crimes unit. At every stage of his career, he has been outstanding and successful, including his current command of one of our most important units. Beyond all of that, Captain Campbell is a cancer survivor who says that the ordeal that he suffered through as a cancer patient made him a better person. I don’t know of many cancer survivors who would say that.

For me, the most incredible aspect of Captain Campbell’s success story is that after 35 years in the JPSO and having earned a retirement several times over, Captain Campbell is enjoying himself too much to retire. It is certainly true that his work as Commander of the Street Crimes unit can be very fulfilling. The Street Crimes unit frequently arrests career criminals the entire community is to see removed from the streets of Jefferson Parish. Not only does the Street Crimes unit often make arrests of career criminals but its officers also frequently gather key evidence that helps the District Attorney’s Office obtain convictions and long sentences of the criminals that they pursue.

Captain Campbell is, in fact, typical of JPSO officers who have tenures of 20, 25, 30 and 35 years with our organization. Like Captain Campbell, so long as their health allows, these men and women love their work and cannot imagine retirement. They enjoy the company of their colleagues and they relish the satisfaction that their work gives them. For members of the Street Crimes unit, that satisfaction often comes with the arrests of criminals with long records and, subsequently, their conviction and sentencing.

I gladly join the men and women who work with Captain Campbell in congratulating him on all he has accomplished and all that is yet to come. I hope that he continues to enjoy his work every day. He and the other members of the JPSO Street Crimes certainly do an excellent job. I know that I speak for the taxpayers and voters of Jefferson Parish when I extend our thanks and best wishes to Captain Campbell.


How Law Enforcement Cooperation,
Along With Technology Can Defeat Crime

I have been in the law enforcement profession for 33 years and I have never been more excited about any new project than I am regarding the Criminal Intelligence Center that has brought together the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the New Orleans Police Department, the Kenner Police Department, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Gretna Police Department, the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office and the State Police. If all goes well, we may add additional participating Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments.

This is a new concept for Louisiana. There have been times in the past when different Police Departments and Sheriff’s Offices have chosen to cooperate. And, there have been times when they have chosen not to cooperate. There has never before been a formal alliance and organization of law enforcement agencies such as the Criminal Intelligence Center.

If you are at all familiar with the columns I have written in the past or the speeches that I have given, you know that I believe that the edge law enforcement has over criminals is technology. We have the computers, we have the communications equipment, we have the K-9 dogs, we have the training programs and we have the crime labs. But what we have never had in the past is a formal organization that brought us together from the various agencies where we work and placed us in a cooperative working arrangement where we form teams working for the common good. That is the function of the Criminal Intelligence Center. To this point, we have brought together more than 30 outstanding police investigators from seven different law enforcement agencies who are working together on hundreds of cases, hundreds of leads and hundreds of sources. All of these excellent investigators are backed up by the latest law enforcement-designed computer software that is specifically intended to help police officers close cases.

The idea of law enforcement agencies working together regionally has been in my mind and the minds of many of my colleagues for years. But we have never before had a facility like the Criminal Intelligence Center or the computers or the software inside its walls. And, we have certainly never had a joint task force like the investigators gathered at the CIC.

In the end, the CIC, like all new ideas, has to prove itself. If the investigators at the CIC are able to effectively use “intelligence-led policing” to identify, locate and arrests criminals while developing evidence that helps prosecutors get convictions, then we all celebrate for that is what will make our communities throughout the region safer and make our quality of life better.


We’re Getting A Handle On DWIs

It was a pleasure recently to host John LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Louisiana State Highway Commission; Captain Paul Saizan of the State Police, Assistant DA Norma Broussard and many of my police chief and Sheriff colleagues when we came together to talk about our coordinated campaign to get intoxicated drivers off the roadways of Louisiana.

Part of the reason we came together was a press conference to unveil the $350,000 DWI Mobile Command Center that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office obtained with a grant from the State Highway Commission. But the press conference also gave us in law enforcement a chance to talk about our coordinated, cooperative campaign to crack down on those who drink and drive.

Paul LeBlanc tells me that for almost 35 years, more than 50 percent of all roadway fatalities in Louisiana were alcohol related. I honestly don’t know how we as a state or we as a parish ever tolerated this. How can any of us bear to think about all the wonderful lives extinguished because of drunken driving? Today, Mr. LeBlanc tells us, we have reduced the number of traffic fatalities and reduced the percentage of alcohol-related deaths to 43 percent. That is still far too much.

In Jefferson Parish, under the day-to-day direction of JPSO Captain Greg Lonero, Commander, Traffic Division, we reduced the number of traffic fatalities from 13 in 2009 to four in 2010. So far in 2011, we have seen six traffic fatalities, three of which were alcohol-related. Clearly, we still have a lot of work to do.

We have received excellent cooperation from the DA’s Office and the Jefferson Parish Traffic Court judges. We have a “No Tolerance” policy regarding drinking and driving in our parish.

But only part of the story involves law enforcement. Our greatest challenge is to convince you and the driving members of your family that it is a terrible idea to drink and drive. Even one or two drinks can be too many. Bring along a designated driver. If you don’t have a designated driver, call a taxicab.

Part of our challenge is to identify and arrest those who drink and drive. We are certainly doing our part in that regard. But we need your help. Our hope is that we can go through the remaining four months of 2011 without another traffic fatality. But we will have to get through the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays without a traffic fatality. That can only be done with your cooperation. Clearly, it is in the best interests of our community if you don’t drink and drive. Let’s make the remaining months of 2011 a safe time in our parish.


The JPSO Young Marines Is A Remarkable Program
That Helps Boys and Girls Achieve High Ambitions

As I looked out over the 48 JPSO Young Marines graduates at the Alario Center the other evening, I could not help but smile at the look of pride on their young faces.

And, they were right to be proud. They had come through 13 weeks of recruit training that required them to stretch out and achieve their highest level of physical and mental accomplishments. I also could not help but consider that given a challenge, even eight and nine year olds can achieve far beyond adult expectations.

At each Young Marine graduation, it never fails that a parent or guardian will approach me and ask – sometime with a twinkle in their eye and sometimes with a tear – whatever happened to the kid that I sent you and who is this model child you have returned to my home? Who is this kid who is suddenly so neat, who does his or her homework without being asked, who assists their younger brothers and sisters voluntarily and responds to questions with, “Yes, sir”, or “No, ma’am”.

As often as I have seen it, I never fail to be amazed by the strength of the Young Marines formula that combines drill team perfection, physical fitness and classroom focus to change young people for the better. At our recent graduation, I looked at Young Marines Private First Class Shilar Reed, who won awards for academic excellence and as the honor recruit of his class, and wondered how an eight-year-old could be so mature and poised.

There is much credit to go around. JPSO Sergeant Bill Jones who is the Commander of the JPSO Young Marines does an excellent job, as does his assistant, JPSO Deputy Tammy Howard. The program could not be successful except for the great work of the reserve officers who work with the Young Marines and the adult volunteers who love the program and the kids. We are also grateful to the parents and guardians who have allowed us to work with the most precious commodity that they possess – their children.

The JPSO Young Marines program teaches teamwork, leadership and self-discipline. It teaches the importance of hard work, respect for others and academic achievement. We require a pledge not to use illegal drugs. Less than one percent of the 1,847 children who have graduated the Young Marines program have gotten into trouble with the law. It is vastly less expensive and preferable to outfit a Young Marine than to maintain a juvenile delinquent in a holding facility. Every Young Marine is a blue-chip investment on the part of Jefferson Parish taxpayers.

If you know of a boy or girl who might benefit from the JPSO Young Marines program, please call Sergeant Jones or Deputy Howard at 363-5694. It will be one of the best phone calls you will ever make.


Our $350,000 DWI Mobile Command Center
Is a Welcome Addition To The Fight
Against Drunken Drivers and Traffic Fatalities

We are very appreciative to the Louisiana State Highway Safety Commission for the $350,000 grant that made it possible for us to secure a beautiful, spacious DWI Mobile Command Center.

It is clear to us there is a correlation between getting intoxicated drivers off the road and reducing the number of traffic accidents, injuries, property damage and fatalities. The DWI Mobile Command Center is going to be a crucial tool in our campaign to identify and arrest drunken drivers on the streets of Jefferson Parish. It will enable us to simultaneously test as many as three drivers believed to be intoxicated, including taking blood samples, while making audio and video recordings of the field sobriety tests. These recordings are crucial evidence in bringing intoxicated drivers before Jefferson Parish Traffic Court judges.

We embarked on this campaign to crack down on drunken drivers in 2010. The result was the fewest traffic fatalities in Jefferson Parish in almost 20 years. In 2010, there were four traffic fatalities in Jefferson, compared to 13 fatalities in 2009 and 17 fatalities in 2008. This year, we have seen six traffic fatalities in Jefferson. We are hoping that we can finish the year with no further traffic fatalities.

Recently, working with the New Orleans Police Department, we held a joint DWI Checkpoint at the Orleans-Jefferson parish line, checking more than 1,000 drivers. We are also working closely with the Louisiana State Police and the Jefferson Parish municipal police departments in our efforts to identify and arrest drunken drivers. When we are not using our DWI Mobile Command Center, it will be available for loan to other South Louisiana police departments and Sheriff’s Offices. I also want to express our appreciation to the Jefferson Parish DA’s Office and the Jefferson Parish Traffic Court judges, both of whom are working with us in our campaign against drunken drivers.

You also have an important role to play in this campaign for public safety, fewer traffic accidents, injuries, less property damage and fewer fatalities. Please don’t drink and drive. If you are going to drink, please bring along a designated driver who is pledged not to drink. If you don’t have a designated driver, call a taxicab. Please drive defensively. Not everyone is as careful a driver as you are. It would be a wonderful thing if we could bring 2011 to an end without another traffic fatality in Jefferson Parish. Let’s try for that goal. We can all help.


JPSO, Jefferson School Board Work Together
To Keep Our Schools Safe, Free of Violence and Drugs

One of my most fundamental beliefs is that public agencies have a responsibility to work together cooperatively whenever possible in the best interests of the community that they serve.One of my most fundamental beliefs is that public agencies have a responsibility to work together cooperatively whenever possible in the best interests of the community that they serve.

The JPSO has many such relationships but I don’t think any are more crucial to the well-being of Jefferson Parish than our alliance with the Jefferson Parish School Board that has produced the award-winning Police On Campus program.

With funding from the School Board, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has developed a 22-member Police On Campus program that stations officers in each of Jefferson’s public senior high schools and several middle schools.

The program began in 1995 when the level of violence, weapons and drugs in schools reached a volume that made it clear that Jefferson Parish schools had entered a new era when traditional respect for school rules and teachers were in crisis. To their credit, the School Board of that time decided that they were not going to allow a handful of thugs disrupt our public schools, putting principals, teachers, staff and students in jeopardy. The School Board realized that if they did nothing, anarchy and chaos would overtake many of the schools in the Jefferson Parish system and the result would be fury on the part of Jefferson Parish residents and voters.

Out of this situation came the call for the JPSO Juvenile Division to create the Police On Campus program and it has worked incredibly well. Today, the program, headed by JPSO Lieutenant Michael Dupuis, includes 22 officers and a drug-sniffing K-9 dog. It would not be correct to claim that the achievement of this program is that no incidents ever occur in the Jefferson Parish public schools. To the contrary, in the 2010-11 school year there were more than 3,000 arrests in the schools. The achievement is that because of the work of the Police On Campus, order is maintained in every Jefferson Parish public school, weapons and drugs are seized almost as quickly as they appear and assaults on students and teachers lead to speedy arrests of those responsible.

I believe that the men and women of the Police On Campus program deserve a stirring ovation. They do outstanding work and the results of their efforts is that the teachers of Jefferson Parish public schools and the vast majority of students can go about the serious business of education without concern of disruption or violence.


Finding New Creative Responses
To The Problems of Juvenile Delinquency

There are many serious challenges to which the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is called upon to respond. Among these is the problem of juvenile delinquency. At the same time that we have seen overall crime in Jefferson Parish reduced by more than 13 percent in 2010 compared to 2009, we have also seen juvenile delinquency reach a level of 4,000 arrests annually. In addition, juvenile crime is increasingly violent, including murders, rapes and armed robberies.

The JPSO’s Juvenile Division does an excellent job of identifying, locating and arresting the most dangerous juvenile offenders. Our Juvenile Division also has an excellent relationship with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office, working with them to obtain convictions in Juvenile Court.

But, the fact is that our officers have observed that juvenile career criminals, who often are arrested for the first time when they are 10 or 11 years of age, view the juvenile justice system with derision. They think that they can out-smart our officers, the Juvenile Courts and those who work at juvenile detention facilities.

This, of course, is an example of self-delusion. The juvenile career criminal who imagines that he or she is outwitting the system is in fact becoming more enmeshed in a life of crime that, as an adult, will them to a lifetime in prison or death.

It has long been clear to us that the answer to reducing juvenile crime does not lie exclusively in law enforcement. We recognize that in many cases, the frequently failed family structure and the schools also cannot convince a child determined to lead a life of crime to go in a positive direction.

That is why the JPSO has created an alliance with Jefferson Parish clergy that we call Cops & Clergy. We work with pastors on the East and West Banks to set up tutoring programs and social events that get kids off the streets. We are also very proud of our JPSO Young Marines program and our JPSO Band of Excellence. The Young Marines program stresses a drug-free life, self-discipline, good study habits and respect for everyone. Less than one percent of Young Marines ever get in trouble with the law. More than 1,700 Jefferson Parish boys and girls have graduated from the Young Marines program and virtually every one of them has improved their grades and graduated from high school.

The JPSO Band of Excellence is beginning its second year. More than 100 young musicians are learning about self-discipline, ambition and striving for excellence from their musical tutors. Some of these young people have previously had brushes with the law. But the Band of Excellence has given them new direction, positive aspirations and the talent to succeed in the world.

I can assure the community that the JPSO Juvenile Division, the JPSO Young Marines and the JPSO Band of Excellence are all working to offer young people positive alternatives to lives of crime. Our goal is to find ways to reduce juvenile crime in Jefferson Parish and we are determined to succeed in this.


Thank You, Council 3091 of the Knights of Columbus
For Your Support, Recognition and Encouragement

I know that I speak for all 1,500 of my Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office colleagues when I express our thanks to the members of Council 3091 of the Knights of Columbus in Marrero for their support, recognition, encouragement and annual award presented to an outstanding JPSO officer.

Council 3091 has been supporting the JPSO and presenting its annual award for many years. The recognition that they give our outstanding officers is very much appreciated, especially by the families of the officers who are recognized. That is certainly true in the case of JPSO Sergeant Vincent Bosco who received this year’s Knights of Columbus award.

Most years, the Knights of Columbus give their award to one of our officers who put his or her life on the line in a chase, shootout or some other very dangerous situation. This year, somewhat to our surprise, the Knights of Columbus decided to honor some old-fashioned, old-time police work that resulted in arrests, the break-up of a drug-dealing Jefferson Parish gang and might have international repercussions.

The case began with calls to the JPSO Fourth District from a scared 17-year-old who had joined a drug-dealing gang. The kid, after a short time, realized that while the money may be good in the short-run, in the long run almost all gang members end up dead or in prison. So the young man decided to leave the gang but that turned out to be problematical. The other gang members might have thought he knew too much or perhaps they resented his disloyalty. In either case, they threatened to kill him. He called the JPSO’s Fourth District asking for protection.

Perhaps because of his 24 years of experience with the JPSO, Sergeant Bosco realized this frightened young man might be willing, in exchange for protection, to turn the tables on the gang members threatening to kill him. So, Sergeant Bosco began to work with the young man, drawing information from his about the gang members, their crimes, drugs and guns. Sergeant Bosco then turned the information and the young man over to the JPSO Narcotics Division who jumped at the opportunity to smash a gang that dealt in drugs, money and guns. In short order, the gang was smashed by arrests of key members while others fled. And, the evidence gathered by the JPSO Narcotics Division led to the possibility that the Jefferson Parish gang was getting drugs from an international source, perhaps a Mexican drug cartel. That brought the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration into the picture and they are proceeding with the case now.

When all of this started, Sergeant Bosco could not have foreseen where his talks with a scared 17-year-old informant might lead. But, Sergeant Bosco’s police instincts were exactly focused in the right direction and, as so often happens in our business, led to greater results than anyone might have expected.

We thank Council 3091 of the Knights of Columbus for all they do for our community and for the JPSO. We also congratulate Sergeant Bosco for his award and his excellent police work.


K-9 Dogs Are An Important Part of JPSO Team

K-9 dogs like Smokey, the eight-year-old Belgian Malinois who works with the JPSO LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) team, are an integral part of the work that we do at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

When we are searching vehicles, boats or homes for illegal drugs, the call goes out for a drug-sniffing dog. Each year, dogs like Smokey uncover hidden caches of illegal drugs, guns and money worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. When we are seeking fleeing suspects, dogs are often called for. Dogs have excellent vision in low-light or dark conditions. When a suspect may be hidden in a darkened building, we frequently send in a dog. An experienced dog, such as Smokey, will have many apprehensions during the course of his career. A suspect who attempts to flee or fight a dog is usually making a very serious mistake. A Belgian Malinois’ teeth are sharp and can inflict serious wounds. Dogs also play a vital role when we are searching for hunters or fishermen lost in the wetlands or swamps.

At the heart of a dog’s effectiveness is the relationship between the K-9 and his handler. Smokey and JPSO Sergeant Mark Pennison have been a team for five years. They have been together for so long that they seemingly can read each other’s minds. In dangerous situations, Sergeant Pennison must take into consideration that Smokey has no concept of fear and is completely devoted to Sergeant Pennison. He will go into any situation where Sergeant Pennison sends him. Because we value Smokey, we trust Sergeant Pennison to use good judgment when he assesses a situation and the danger that is inherent in it.

Today, we especially value multi-tasking dogs because of the increasing costs of European dogs bred for police work. Because of European inflation, a dog born in The Netherlands, Germany or Belgium that has been specially bred for police work may cost as much as $14,000. At the time that Smokey came to us five years ago, the cost was about $10,000. Smokey is trained to find illegal drugs, explosives and is a great patrol dog. He can handle multiple assignments.

That is why we have sent Sergeant Pennison to a special school where he became a certified dog trainer. He is currently raising and teaching a Belgian Malinois puppy to become a JPSO K-9 dog. It is too soon to know if Sergeant Pennison is going to become remarkable and successful as a dog trainer but the early reports are encouraging. If we can learn to successfully train dogs bred for police work to become K-9 dogs in the mold of Smokey, it would save the JPSO tens of thousands of dollars every year.

The future outlook is that dogs will continue to be vitally important members of the JPSO team. There is a parallel between our dogs and the highly-paid draft choices of the New Orleans Saints. A draft choice who is often sick or injured and spends most of his time on the bench is not a good investment or a productive member of the team. In much the same way, we have to use good judgment in the selection of K-9 dogs. If they are sick or frequently injured, they aren’t available for duty. Smokey is a good example of a K-9 dog who provides an excellent return on our investment. He has located illegal drugs, money and guns that no human could have found. The value of the drugs, guns and money that Smokey has located is vastly in excess of the cost of purchasing Smokey when he was a three-year-old in training. The decision of our handlers to purchase Smokey was a very good one. If Smokey’s good health continues, he will have a working career of seven or eight years before retiring to Sergeant Pennison’s home as a loved and appreciated pet.

I see K-9 dogs as an important part of the JPSO’s technological edge over criminals. The team of Smokey and Sergeant Mark Pennison provide proof every day that properly trained and handled K-9 dogs are an essential part of our law enforcement team.


JPSO Personal Violence Section Battles Criminals,
Upholds Jefferson’s Excellent Quality of Life

I am very proud of the work being done by the JPSO Personal Violence Section. They are in a daily struggle against those who engage in sexual crimes, including child abuse, pornography, stalking, harassment and pedophilia.

The criminals pursued by the Personal Violence Section are involved in crimes that are degrading and an assault on the quality of life that we enjoy in Jefferson Parish. The criminal activities the Personal Violence Section investigates often involve computers and pornographic images. Because these cases and the laws governing the prosecution of sexual crimes are so technical, the officers of the Personal Violence Section must be extremely knowledgeable about the computer sciences and the legal requirements for gaining access to a suspect’s cyber files.

Among the keys to the success of the Personal Violence Section has been their cooperative relationship with the District Attorney’s Office and his prosecutors, in particular, Assistant District Attorney Margaret Hay. She has worked closely with the officers of the Personal Violence Section and their teamwork has resulted in many convictions. It is interesting that in many of these cases, the defendants have chosen to plead guilty rather than go to trial, quite possibly because they did not want to have to explain to a jury of Jefferson Parish residents how they came to possess sordid and degrading pornographic pictures that had been lifted from their computer hard drives or cell phones by our experts at the JPSO Personal Violence Section. Special credit also goes to JPSO Lieutenant Kelly Jones, a 30-year veteran who is commander of the Personal Violence Section.

The close working relationship between the JPSO Personal Violence Section and the DA’s Office is an excellent example of how public agencies should work together.

The recent Personal Violence cases involving a plumber who allegedly used his access to residences to molest children and a restaurant employee who allegedly planted two cameras in the women’s bathroom of the restaurant where he worked are examples of how the world we live is changing and challenging our standards, ethics and morals. How do we teach our children, beginning in their most formative years, how to recognize and protect themselves from those who would take advantage of them? Equally important, what is our role as responsible adults in helping to set community standards that uphold the quality of life that we have for many decades enjoyed in Jefferson Parish?

These are challenging questions. But one thing you can be certain of is that the men and women of the JPSO Personal Violence Section, along with Jefferson Parish Assistant District Attorney Margaret Hay, will continue to successfully uphold our laws and to arrest, prosecute and convict those who commit sexual crimes.


Refresher Courses In CPR, First Aid
Help JPSO Patrol Division Assist
EMT’s In Saving Lives

Very often, the officers of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division arrive at the scene of a crime, an accident, a heart attack or an injury before anyone else.

In those critical moments before Jefferson Parish’s excellent Emergency Medical Technicians arrive, our Patrol Division officers can make a life-or-death difference by correctly administering CPR or first aid.

That is why I have decided to provide our JPSO Patrol Division officers refresher courses in CPR, first aid and disaster response. In many instances, our officers have not had a CPR or first aid course since they were in recruit training. For many of our officers, that may have been 5 to 25 years ago. In just a short time, we have seen instances where our officers have been able to assist EMT’s in saving lives by making good CPR and first aid decisions upon arriving at a scene where people were hurt and in need of immediate care.

I also need to add that both the Jefferson Parish Fire Department and Emergency Medical Technicians have excellent response times. Along with the JPSO, the Fire Department and EMT’s come at top speed in response to emergency calls. At the JPSO, we are very proud of our five minutes or less response time to an emergency call. Often, we will have two or three cars at a scene in five minutes or less. The Jefferson Fire Department and our EMT’s are equally proud of their outstanding response times. And, of course, the Jefferson Parish EMT’s are the real experts in emergency medicine. Our job, when our Patrol Division officers are the first at a scene is to make good decisions until the EMT’s arrive. We are a team.

At the JPSO Training Academy, we are fortunate to be able to call on the skills of Colonel Terry Pond, a JPSO Reserve Officer. He is one of the best in the region and the nation in teaching CPR, first aid and disaster response. We not only want our officers to know how to administer CPR and first aid, but also we want them to be able to drive deep-water truck in an emergency or respond correctly to a report of a possible improvised explosive device. Colonel Pond and our teaching staff at the JP SO Training Academy are experts in all phases of emergency response and do a great job of preparing our officers for any situation.


We Are Advocates of Complete Transparency

“Transparency” has become a very popular word among elected officials and those who are employees of government. Transparency, of course, refers to giving citizens complete access to governmental business and governmental candor in answering all questions about the operations of government.

I too am an advocate of transparency. I am especially proud of the JPSO Citizen’s Academy, an eight week program that gives interested citizens complete access to the inner workings of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. We answer all questions and the participants in the program get to meet and talk to JPSO officers at every level of our command structure.

One of the things that I tell each Citizen’s Academy class is how proud we are at the JPSO that crime in unincorporated Jefferson was down 13.2 percent in 2010, compared to 2009. We feel that we are one of the best-trained, best-equipped and most modernized law enforcement agencies in our region or in the nation. The fact is that Jefferson Parish is one of the safest communities of its size.

But, I also tell the citizens, despite our successes, we also have problems and challenges. Much of our time is spent arresting and re-arresting the same suspects. This is inherently dangerous for our personnel, as you can surely see. We are not a military organization that accepts casualties as a part of our mission. We want all of our people to be at home with their families at the close of the work day. The only acceptable casualty rate for us is zero.

Another of our challenges is retention. We have excellent personnel. But they live in the real world where they are often viewed as first round draft choices by other law enforcement agencies and private businesses. Remaining competitive when it comes to salaries and benefits is very challenging.

If you would like to know more about the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, you might enjoy participating in a future JPSO Citizen’s Academy. We promise to answer all your questions and to tell you the complete story. For more information about our Citizen’s Academy set for this fall, please contact JPSO Deputy Chief Steve LaChute in my office.


JPSO Young Marines Is A Remarkable
Program That Will Transform Your Son or Daughter

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Young Marines program is now in its 17th year in Jefferson Parish. During that time we have graduated 1,799 Young Marines. Almost all of them will tell you that the program transformed their lives, changed their values and help them establish new goals for the rest of their lives.

Our Young Marines program is considered one of the best in the nation. However, it has taken almost six years since Hurricane Katrina to fully revive the program and restore it to full health.

Now, we are very proud of the 56 Jefferson Parish boys and girls who are Young Marines recruits. They are training each Saturday at the JPSO Training Academy. They are getting leadership from many sources. JPSO Sergeant Bill Jones is a 19-year JPSO veteran. He is assisted by JPSO Deputy Tammy Howard and a group of JPSO reserves and volunteers who have military experience. But much of the training and leadership comes from JPSO Young Marines who are the same age as the recruits. These Young Marines have been through the program and know exactly what it takes to make a successful Young Marine.

One of the factors that make the Young Marines so successful is what I call “peer respect.” Every boy and girl wants to live up to the standards of their peers. In the Young Marines, our recruits meet boys and girls their own age who have become outstanding Young Marines. Who wouldn’t want to be a standout Young Marine with a chest lined with ribbons and medals?

Recently, at a JPSO “Family Night” held for the Young Marines recruits and their parents and guardians, I said that the chance to become a Young Marine was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be passed up. In the Young Marines, these boys and girls will learn about self-discipline, honor, dignity, integrity, honesty and self-respect. They will learn that it is honorable to help others, to treat others with respect and stand up for what they believe. Each Young Marine will take a solemn oath not to use illegal drugs.

I have been watching our Young Marines program transform young people lacking direction into poised, responsible, organized and goal-oriented young leaders who know where they’re going and how they’re going to get there.

If you know a young person who might benefit from this program, we will likely be starting another class in the fall. Please call JPSO Sergeant Bill Jones at 363-5692 for more information. You’ll be glad that you did.


JPSO Men and Women Respond to a Tragedy
That Reminds Us of Hurricane Katrina Six Years Ago

It’s difficult for us to imagine a storm even more devastating than Hurricane Katrina. But, the JPSO officers who recently traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama with desperately needed supplies tell us that the impact of the tornado there had an even more destructive impact than the winds and water of Hurricane Katrina that hit Jefferson Parish in 2005.

I’m incredibly proud of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office men and women who came up with the idea of collecting thousands of items that we know from experience will be needed by the residents of Tuscaloosa. The idea began with JPSO Sergeant Billy Lewis and JPSO Sergeant Martin Dunn. They immediately got the support and assistance of JPSO Major James McClendon, Colonel Tim Scanlan and Colonel John Fortunato and soon the supporting cast grew to hundreds of JPSO members and their families.

Everyone knows that those who choose law enforcement as their career field are not wealthy. Yet, in every emergency, the compassion and generosity of JPSO officers and their families comes through. Each year, at Christmas time, they donate hundreds of toys and games to the patients at Children’s Hospital. In this instance, their empathy for what the residents of Tuscaloosa are going through is rooted in the suffering and discomfort that we had to endure in the wake of Katrina.

As our officers recalled, immediately after the storm, their uniforms and underclothing was wet, food was scarce and there were too few bottles of water. Items that we ordinarily all take for granted like razor blades, soap, insect spray, cleaning supplies and tools were underwater. I will never forget how appreciative we were of the first relief trucks that came rolling down the highway. It was, I believe, the remembrance of those days that helped motivate the JPSO family to give so generously that we soon had three deep-water trucks completely filled with thousands of items that are easily available in normal times but desperately scarce in a crisis.

I know that I speak for all the residents of Jefferson Parish and Tuscaloosa when I applaud Sergeant Lewis and Sergeant Dunn for getting the ball rolling. Ovations are also deserved by all the members of the JPSO family who then stepped up and contributed to the convoy to Tuscaloosa. When we in Jefferson Parish were in serious trouble after Katrina, others helped us. It’s an honor for us to be able to help the people of Tuscaloosa in their hour of need. We remember all too well just what that is like.


A Near-Perfect Search and Rescue Mission

Terrible things can happen to people who get lost. Their boat can overturn. They can inadvertently step into water that is over their head. Little children and Alzheimer’s patients who are lost can accidentally fall into canals.

At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, we’ve seen just about every kind of search and rescue mission that you can imagine. Sometimes they have a happy ending. Sometimes they end in tragedy.

The recent search and rescue mission that saved Professor Francisco Piedrahita in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park was a classic success. Working together were eight different agencies that came together as one team. I’m one of those folks who always remind my colleagues that there is no “I” in team. That’s the way this team was. We were all focused on the mission.

Some people wondered after the rescue why it took four days to find Dr. Piedrahita. The answer is that the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park is more than 20,000 acres. With the help of the Park Service police we identified about 2,000 acres where Dr. Piedrahita might be. That is still a lot of terrain. Another facet of the Jean Lafitte Park is that while it is a swamp, the vegetation is very heavy making observation from the air difficult. The Park Service police tell us that the Jean Lafitte Park qualifies as a “triple canopy” tree cover. Even in all-terrain vehicles it is slow going on the ground.

Dr. Piedrahita told us after the rescue that at times, he heard rescuers calling to him in Spanish. He tried to shout in response but his calls were weak and the dense vegetation probably suppressed the sound of his voice.

In the end, one of the keys to the rescue is that JPSO Deputy Stephen Tarzis, an expert helicopter pilot, was able to maneuver our copter about 200 feet above the swamp. Dr. Piedrahita showed good judgment, locating himself in an open spot, next to a tall tree. He was spotted by JPSO Colonel Bobby Woods, Commander of our LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) Division. By the time Colonel Woods spotted Dr. Piedrahita, the professor was so exhausted he couldn’t lift his arms. But it didn’t matter. He and Colonel Woods made eye contact, the search was over and the rescue was accomplished moments later.

Like everyone, I’m delighted that Dr. Piedrahita was saved and is back with his family. But, I'm also very proud of the incredible team effort by everyone on the search team. We all worked together as if we had been doing it for a decade. We mobilized boats, all-terrain vehicles, helicopters and dogs. It was a superb, professional performance and, best of all, we saved a life.


Louisiana Special Olympics
Is Always A Winner In My Book

I was very pleased that more than 20 members of our Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office team participated in the recent Louisiana Special Olympics Torch Run.

The Louisiana Special Olympics is one of my favorite causes. Each year, I join with Rita Benson LeBlanc in sponsoring a Special Olympics fundraiser called Over The Edge. Participants make major gifts to Special Olympics for the privilege of rappelling over the edge of the Benson Tower in Downtown New Orleans. Afterwards, the participants are flown by helicopter to the JPSO Training Academy where they are briefed on JPSO SWAT Team training methods and given an opportunity to fire a variety of weapons at the JPSO Firing Range. Everyone who participates will tell you that it’s great fun and a very unique experience.

The Jefferson Parish Torch Run is also special. It brings together law enforcement officers from some nine local, municipal, parish and federal agencies for what is really a fun run. The course is about seven miles. This year, the group of more than 200 ran from the Zephyr Stadium parking lot to Kenner Police Headquarters. It’s a great way to raise public awareness of Special Olympics.

I can tell you, as a fan of Special Olympics, that the sight of boys and girls with intellectual disabilities competing to the full extent of their capabilities would warm even the coldest heart. It is a wonderful sight and a great experience. In the Special Olympics, everyone wins. Each participant is given a ribbon. Special Olympics believes that winning is great, but trying your best is just as important.

I know there are many wonderful non-profit causes competing for your philanthropic dollars. Louisiana Special Olympics, which is self-sustaining, in my opinion, is one of the best. If you’d like to help them – even a small contribution is helpful – Louisiana Special Olympics is located at 1000 East Morris Avenue in Hammond. The zip code is 70403. The telephone number is 985-345-6644.


Can Music Save Lives?
In Some Cases, It Can

I have been in the law enforcement business for 29 years. In the course of that long span of time, I have like many others spent hundreds of hours pondering how we might reverse the course of talented children who because of poverty and poor decision making are destined for the criminal justice system, jail and, all too often, an early death.

Over the years, I have many times wondered if our community’s cultural love of music might somehow provide a path for talented children who because of circumstances find themselves at risk. In my capacity as Sheriff of Jefferson Parish, I have – with the help of many wonderful friends – had a chance to test my theory. The result is the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Band of Excellence.

Currently, the band includes 72 excellent musicians, 64 of whom are high school students, eight of whom attend middle schools. These children are great musicians. They are so gifted and talented there are times when I can scarcely believe that such young children can produce such great music. It is no accident that in the first year of the JPSO Band of Excellence, five have won university music scholarships.

But an alarming number of these children are what we call “at-risk.” That means they have committed acts that have brought them to the attention of the criminal justice system. Several of the band members were considering dropping out of high school. Their lives were spiraling downhill at an alarming rate.

Fortunately, the Band of Excellence came along at a good time in their lives. The opportunity to use their talents, the chance to be part of something positive and the opportunity to attach themselves to some great role models changed their lives – at least for the moment.

Many people have contributed to the development of the Band of Excellence, but none more so than Hezekiah Brinson, our gifted band director. Many of the students call him “dad” because he is the surrogate father in their lives that they have never had before. He is at once a musician, a father, disciplinarian, a confidante, a cheerleader and much more. I am also grateful to JPSO Deputy Chief Richard Rodrigue, JPSO Sergeant David Green, JPSO Detective Devin Rogers and Renee Washington. We could not have made so much progress without them.

I am also grateful to Tipitina’s Foundation, the Pat Taylor Foundation, the Goldring Foundation, Louie Roussell and the Youth Rescue Foundation of Joseph Georgusis. There were also many other contributors who sent in the few dollars they could afford along with their heartfelt wishes for our success. They have all bought into the dream and made it possible to provide the Band of Excellence with instruments and uniforms. I hope that in the year to come you’ll get to hear the JPSO Band of Excellence perform. I’m sure you’ll agree that they are exceptional musicians whose beautiful music has opened a path for them to make their lives better and productive.


Thank You For A Wonderful Blue Mass,
St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church and
Knights of Columbus, Council 12686

On behalf of Jefferson Parish’s First Responders, I want to express our gratitude to St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus and the more than 600 Jefferson Parish residents who filled the church for the 9th Annual Blue Mass.

I have contended for many years that there is a unique and special bond between Jefferson’s First Responders and the community. Each year, the annual Blue Mass at St. Catherine’s reminds us that the community we serve is grateful, appreciative and supportive of all the First Responders. This includes the JPSO, the Jefferson Parish fire fighters, the municipal police departments, the Emergency Medical Technicians, the State Police and the Causeway Police.

The Blue Mass is a project of the Knights of Columbus who do a wonderful job. After the church service, the Knights host a luncheon in the church cafeteria. We are especially appreciative of the efforts of Anthony E. Maurin, Jr., Knights of Columbus Council Director, and Grand Knight Paul Bates. They work closely with JPSO Captain Alex Norman, Commander, Community Relations who coordinates all of the First Responders of Jefferson Parish.

The Blue Mass is especially meaningful for the families of First Responders who have died in the line of duty. The pictures of the fallen are displayed during the church service. As I mentioned in my remarks during the service, those who have given their lives to protect the citizens of Jefferson Parish will never be forgotten.

After the service, many members of the congregation approached First Responders to assure us of their appreciation and support. It is difficult to put into words how much that means to us or how much we appreciate the public’s encouragement.

It is certainly my hope and intention that all First Responders will continue to participate in the annual Blue Mass. We are deeply indebted to St. Catherine of Siena Church and the Knights of Columbus for carrying on this wonderful tradition. Let us all hope that the Blue Mass continues for many decades to come.


JPSO Is Building State-Of-The-Art District Stations

All of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office are very proud of the new state-of-the-art facilities that Jefferson Parish taxpayers have allowed us to build.

These new facilities include the JPSO Training Academy, the JPSO Firing Range, the JPSO LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) Headquarters and Maritime Center and the JPSO Crime Lab. We can now add to that list the newly dedicated JPSO 2nd District Station.

We are very mindful that we are indebted to Jefferson Parish taxpayers whose first priority for many years has been safe streets. The Jefferson Parish taxpayers have done all that they could to provide the funding for excellent JPSO facilities and we are very grateful to them. The funding for the new 2nd District station came from a $30 million bond issue overwhelmingly approved by Jefferson Parish voters.

One of the stipulations we imposed on our architects (Sizeler Thompson Brown) and our general contractor (Artigues Construction) is that our new district stations must incorporate the lessons we learned during Hurricane Katrina when our facilities, communications and vehicles were severely battered.

In the new 2nd District station, all offices are located on the second floor, beyond the reach of floodwaters. In a covered space on the first level is a protected garage that has room for a flatbed boat, a high-water vehicle and a supply trailer. We also have a back-up generator and our own mini-sewerage system that will function even if the parish’s utilities are overwhelmed. The 2nd District station is also part of a new, updated and hurricane-resistant communications system that we believe will withstand high winds and floodwaters.

Most of all, the 2nd District station is designed to be able to function independently even in the most adverse weather conditions.

The men and women of the JPSO are very much aware that we are fortunate to serve Jefferson Parish whose taxpayers have made our efficiency one of their top priorities. Thanks to the taxpayers of Jefferson, the JPSO has several outstanding, efficient state-of-the-art facilities, including the new 2nd District Station on the West Bank.


Targeting Drunk Drivers Saves Lives

Around the nation, police departments are setting up DWI Checkpoints and officers on patrol duty are stopping drivers whose erratic handling of their vehicles indicates they might be intoxicated.

I’m proud that our effort to target drunk drivers and get them off the streets of Jefferson Parish has been successful and attracted national attention. We have seen traffic fatalities in unincorporated Jefferson Parish drop from 13 in 2009 to four in 2010. So far this year, we have recorded two traffic fatalities in Jefferson.

There is plenty of credit to go around. Members of every division at the JPSO have contributed to the effort. At a recent DWI Checkpoint on the West Bank, officers from the Traffic Division, the Patrol Division, the LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) and the Reserves all participated. We have also gotten help from the parish’s municipal police forces. Jefferson Parish DA Paul Connick and his staff have done an outstanding job of prosecuting drunken drivers. The Traffic Court judges have been suspending the licenses of repeat offenders and giving stiff sentences to those who drink and drive.

For our officers what is most gratifying is the positive response we are getting from persons in the vehicles going through the Checkpoint. “Thank you for getting drunk drivers off the streets,” is the message we hear on a regular basis. I think the public is well aware that drunk drivers are a threat to everyone.

The effect of targeting DWIs has been a reduction in accidents, injuries and fatalities in Jefferson Parish. It has become apparent that if we can convince the driver who drinks to either use a designated driver or call a taxicab, our streets will be much safer.

How can you help? If you drink, don’t drive. Even one or two drinks can affect your reflexes. Don’t take a chance. Call a taxicab or ask someone who hasn’t had a drink to take you home. When you drive, think defensively. It is a fact that traffic volumes in Jefferson Parish have never been higher than they are right now. But if we can get the drunken drivers off the streets and if the rest of us will drive defensively, I am convinced that we can continue the current trend of reducing accidents, injuries and fatalities. The consequences of high speed traffic crashes are always tragic. We all know what we need to do to keep our streets safe. Let’s make safe driving one of our personal priorities.


Is It Too Soon To Start Thinking About Hurricane Season?
Not For The JPSO and Not For You Either

You might be thinking that it’s much too soon to be worrying about hurricane season. We all know from past experiences that the most dangerous time for hurricanes is late August and early September. Perhaps you’re thinking that June or July is plenty of time to start checking your hurricane kit to be sure the batteries are working in your portable radios and your flashlights. It is also a good time to check to see that your important papers are where they should be and that you have plenty of fresh water on hand and non-perishable food items.

At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, we start checking engines and other equipment with the hurricane season in mind right after the Easter holidays. There are a lot of details for us to check. We have a flotilla of boats, a fleet of trucks and other vehicles as well as two helicopters to be checked and re-checked. We also have to make sure that the vehicles we wouldn’t want to leave at ground level in the event of a storm are accounted for and parked far above ground in high-rise garages on both the East and West Banks.

If I may respectfully suggest it, the end of April or early May isn’t too soon to start thinking about the “what ifs” that go with hurricane season – if you have to evacuate, where will you stay? What’s the best, safest and most timely route to get there? Do you have an up-to-date list of cell phone and landline numbers of family members and friends? Have you given some thought to whether you’re taking your pets with you or are you making other arrangements for them? Once we get to May, the days fly by swiftly until the first hurricanes of the season approach the Gulf of Mexico.

Our first line of defense in hurricane season is the LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) Division. They pride themselves on being excellent students who were schooled by Hurricane Katrina. We learned a lot from Katrina and have tried to incorporate all of her lessons into our preparations for the next hurricane. All of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office hope that we will be fortunate again in 2011 and watch the hurricanes as they fly by to either side of us. But we can’t count on that. So we’re preparing as though we know that 2011 will bring a hurricane our way. We aren’t trying to rush you, but we hope that you’ll start making your plans for hurricane season soon – just in case.


JPSO Reopens Its Lake Pontchartrain Marine Services Facilities

If you find yourself in the neighborhood of the Bonnabel Boat Launch in East Jefferson, you may notice the new Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Marine Services Building that we have just completed.

The new building, which provides interior storage for two JPSO rescue boats and an area for diving equipment, replaces a previous storage building on the site that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By having the building constructed over the water, our ability to quickly deploy our boats to assist fishermen and recreational boaters in distress is greatly enhanced.

Our new building is a reflection of my belief that whenever possible, the JPSO should seek state-of-the-art facilities. By upgrading our facilities, it gives us the tools we need to better serve the public as well as reducing our maintenance costs in the long run.

The new Marine Services Building is designed to withstand hurricane winds up to 150 miles per hour. With its built-in generator and back-up power, it will provide a base of operations for the members of the JPSO LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) Division during post-storm activities.

In addition, I am certain that the new Marine Services Building on Lake Pontchartrain will enable us to provide an added layer of protection and safety for the hundreds of recreational boaters who enjoy Lake Pontchartrain on a weekly basis. We judge our new construction by how it allows us to improve our performance in saving lives.

As I have often said before, getting the greatest bang for our buck is a continuous process where we cannot ever be satisfied. I hope you’ll make it a point to view our new facility at Bonnabel. I think you’ll be pleased and satisfied that this is another example of taxpayer dollars well spent for public safety.


Getting Intoxicated Drivers Off the Streets
Is The Best Way To Save Lives

All across America, a tremendous drive is underway to crack down on intoxicated drivers and save lives.

There are few places in America where the drive against DWIs has been more successful than in Jefferson Parish. In 2008, 17 traffic fatalities were recorded in unincorporated Jefferson Parish. In 2009, there were 13 traffic fatalities. It is estimated that the use of alcohol was a factor in close to 90 percent of the fatalities. In 2010, the JPSO Traffic Division, with a great assist from the Patrol Division, began cracking down on DWIs. Also on the team were the District Attorney’s Office and the Jefferson Parish Traffic Court judges.

And, amazingly, as we made it too hot for intoxicated drivers, the number of traffic fatalities fell to four. It was the fewest number of traffic fatalities in Jefferson in 20 years.

There is plenty of credit go around. The State Highway Commission helped fund the overtime effort to identify and arrest intoxicated drivers. The DA’s Office did a great job of prosecuting DWIs. The Legislature passed laws that required a driver suspected of DWI to participate in field sobriety tests. The Traffic Court judges of Jefferson Parish assessed stiff penalties against drivers who got behind the wheel after drinking. We will never know how many lives were saved by this crackdown but 2010 was the first time in 20 years that Jefferson Parish recorded fewer than 10 traffic fatalities.

We are determined that it will not be the last. Our effort to force DWIs off the road is continuing. All over Jefferson Parish, those who drink are not getting behind the wheels of their vehicles. They’re turning to designated drivers and taxicabs to get them home safely.

The State Highway Commission recently honored the JPSO Traffic Division. Captain Greg Lonero and the men and women of the Traffic Division deserve a tremendous standing ovation. They have also gotten a major assist from the men and women of the JPSO Patrol Division. Also working with us have been many officers from the metropolitan police departments of Jefferson Parish. We have been working as a team and the result has been a significant reduction in lives lost to drunken drivers. This effort is going to continue. We ask that you drive defensively and please don’t drink and drive. If you do plan to drink, please use a designated driver or call a taxicab.


The Diversity of Jefferson Parish

I remember when the first Vietnamese refugees came to Jefferson Parish.

It was after the Vietnam War. Their side and their American allies had lost the war and they were homeless. Many of them came to Jefferson Parish where they became commercial fishermen; and often times, were regarded by some as intruders. I’m sure it’s never easy to be an immigrant. The first sign that the Vietnamese were going to be successful Americans came from their children.

Almost suddenly, we noticed that the valedictorians, salutatorians and most likely to succeed at our high schools were invariably Vietnamese. These children, like their parents, were hard workers, smart and highly motivated. When you saw those great-looking Vietnamese children in their caps and gowns, you knew they were going to do just fine in America.

I was thinking about the success of the Vietnamese the other day when JPSO Sergeant Robert Saman’s name came up in the course of a discussion on the rising number of Arab-Americans making their homes in Jefferson Parish.

Sergeant Saman, perhaps to his own surprise, has emerged as one of our region’s leading authorities on the Arab-American community. Like many newcomers to America, Sergeant Saman did not have a very auspicious debut in this country. He came to America from Jordan in 1982 with little more than the clothing on his back and a will to succeed. As the years went by, Robert became increasingly impressed by the men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office – the way they carried themselves, the way they treated others, the JPSO’s success in fighting crime and the respect that Jefferson Parish police officers got from the community.

So, in 1999, Robert applied to the JPSO, was accepted, and began his career as a motorcycle officer.

It was only after 9/11 that it occurred to us that we had in our ranks an Arab-American police officer who was fluent in both English and Arabic. Robert, it turned out, had a gift for languages and was fluent not only in the Jordanian dialect of Arabic but could also read, write and speak the Arabic dialects found in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern states. The FBI was equally impressed and Sergeant Saman became the JPSO’s liaison to the Joint Task Force on Terrorism. Sergeant Saman today works out of the JPSO Intelligence Bureau.

In his private life, Sergeant Saman has also succeeded. His eldest daughter will begin her college career at LSU while his younger daughter is a sophomore at Mount Carmel High School. Part of America’s greatness is that our doors are always open to hard-working, driven and deserving people who push themselves and their children to succeed. That is the American dream come true. Sergeant Robert Saman is a good example of how the American dream is still very much valid.


There Is Tremendous Value For The JPSO
In Our Core of Long-Term, Veteran Employees

I frequently receive compliments on the outstanding work of police officers and civilian employees of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Very often, these compliments are directed to veterans who have a long record of outstanding service and proven expertise at their assignments.

The success of the JPSO – reflected in 2010 by a 13.6 percent drop in major crimes in Jefferson Parish when compared to 2009 – is certainly enhanced by our core of veteran officers and civilian employees. A good example of this can be found can the Jefferson Correctional Center, a major responsibility for the JPSO. Many of the inmates of the Correctional Center have been accused of major violent crimes. Our responsibilities also include being responsive to a federal court order prohibiting overcrowding at the Correctional Center.

In charge of the administration of the Correctional Center is a veteran team led by Deputy Chief Sue Ellen Monfra. She holds many “firsts” at the JPSO, including being the first woman named a district commander, the first women to serve as a Deputy Chief and the first woman warden in the history of Jefferson Parish. She is backed by an outstanding, experienced group that includes Colonel Howard Lavin, a 40-year JPSO veteran; Captain Ed Olsen, a 15-year JPSO veteran; Lieutenant Jason Hippler, a 20-year JPSO veteran, and Connie Cassard, an 11-year JPSO civilian employee. Like many other JPSO employees, some of these veterans could retire tomorrow. But they would tell you they still enjoy their work, enjoy their colleagues and enjoy the challenge that goes with their jobs.

At the same time, many members of the JPSO team at the Correctional Center are young, either first-year rookies or officers who have less than five years experience. Our hope and the goal of our recruiting process is that these younger members of the JPSO will be the next generation of 20, 25, 30 and even 40-year veterans. So long as our employees continue to regard the JPSO as a good place to work, a place filled with good teammates and interesting work challenges, we will continue to have success.

I definitely applaud all of the JPSO employees who run a tight ship at the Correctional Center. They have a daunting assignment and they have handled it extremely well. We look forward to their continued success.


Business Community Support for Crimestoppers
Is A Sound Investment That Pays Off
In A Safer Community

I was so pleased that some 100 companies from throughout the metro area volunteered to be sponsors at Crimestoppers recent annual luncheon at the New Orleans Hilton Hotel.

Crimestoppers is a vital helper to law enforcement, paying rewards for anonymous tips that lead to arrests. Last year, tips phoned into Crimestoppers helped solve 32 murders and more than 500 other violent crimes.

Sometimes I become concerned that the business community, whose contributions fund the money used for rewards, might take Crimestoppers for granted. It would be disastrous if the business leaders of the metro community were to take the view that Crimestoppers is so successful that it doesn’t need their help. But, as I looked at the crowd of 850 that filled the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton, it was apparent that there is little cause for concern. It is obvious that the business community is well aware anonymous tips phoned into Crimestoppers in exchange for cash rewards helps law enforcement solve cases where there might not be any other leads except an anonymous call that puts the investigation moving in the right direction.

I certainly know that there are many good causes out there soliciting funds. However, I hope you will share my view that a contribution to Crimestoppers is a solid investment in a safe community.

I also think that the tremendous support and turnout for Crimestoppers is a great tribute to Darlene Cusanza who for 15 years has been Executive Director of Crimestoppers. She has done a wonderful job, not only in terms of running the Crimestoppers program but also in securing tremendous business support for Crimestoppers. As the turnout at the recent luncheon indicated, support for Crimestoppers is close to a unanimous acclamation. That is a tremendous compliment to the Crimestoppers board, who are volunteers, and to Ms. Cusanza.

It was pleasing to me to see JPSO Detective Sean Cursain and his K-9 dog, Rex, singled out for a Crimestoppers award. Detective Cursain and Rex are a great team. Rex is considered one of the nation’s best drug-sniffing dogs. In addition, Rex, who has a very genial disposition, has often demonstrated his drug-locating skills for teenagers involved in a Crimestoppers anti-crime program. Detective Cursain and Rex represent the very best qualities of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.


The JPSO Reserves Perform Brilliantly,
Especially During Mardi Gras

I thought that Mardi Gras 2011 was one of the most successful, safest and largest celebrations in Jefferson Parish history.

In a year when parish officials emphasized that they wanted a “Family Gras” atmosphere at Jefferson Parish parades, everyone cooperated to make it a great festival for grandparents, parents and kids.

It has long been said at the JPSO that we could not provide the kind of police presence that is required for a great Mardi Gras except for the hard work of our Reserve Officers. That was never truer than in 2011. Our 170 Reserve Officers took responsibility for the area between Helois Street and Martin Behrman Avenue and did a superb job. In fairness, our Reserves share the credit with the crowds that came out for Mardi Gras. What ruins Mardi Gras is rampant drunken behavior, fights and individuals who rampage through the crowds behaving like thugs. That’s when JPSO officers step up and take charge. We don’t allow that in Jefferson Parish’s Mardi Gras celebration. But, in truth, we saw few drunks, few fights and few instances of thug-like behavior at Mardi Gras 2011. It was as though there was unanimous agreement, including those who came to the parades to have a good time, that this “Family Gras” was going to be special.

I think our Reserve Officers are special also. They have to meet our high standards to become members of the JPSO Reserves. Reserve Officers invariably hold full-time jobs and have family responsibilities as well. So it takes a very dedicated, well-organized person to handle their job and family responsibilities while also performing as a Reserve Officer.

In the last several years, we have asked our Reserve Officers to take on expanded responsibilities. Our Reserve Patrol Division Officers have been making felony arrests, taking criminals, guns and drugs off the streets of Jefferson Parish. Our Reserve Traffic Division officers respond to accidents, direct traffic, enforce the traffic laws including parking violations and perform escort duties. The Reserve Officers of the LASER Division are famous for participating in rescues of lost or stranded hunters and fishermen. They are part of our response team to flooding caused by heavy rainfalls and, of course, hurricanes.

We also believe in cross-training. Our Patrol Division Reserves can step in and perform the duties of the Traffic Division and LASER. The Traffic Division and LASER Reserves are also cross-trained. Many of our Reserve Officers have told me how proud they are of the role they play in our organization, in the community, and at Mardi Gras. If you would like to find out more about becoming a JPSO Reserve Officer, please call our Personnel Department at 376-2333.


JPSO Young Marines Is A Great Organization
That Helps Young People Achieve Their Full Potential

I am so pleased that the JPSO Young Marines appeared in four Mardi Gras parades this year. They did a great job. Their performance was impeccable. And, they greatly enjoyed the applause that was showered on them.

Many people commented on how well they marched. But I can tell you that behind their excellent appearance are many hours spent practicing to achieve marching perfection. By the time that they appeared in the Mardi Gras parades, the Young Marines could probably have done it in their sleep. But, in the beginning, it was – as you might imagine – a jumble. Much credit goes to JPSO Sergeant Bill Jones, Commander of the Young Marines – and his staff for their teaching ability, their patience and the fact that they really love the kids who join the Young Marines organization.

Most Young Marines start their YM careers somewhere between their eighth and 12th birthdays. Our purpose at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in sponsoring the Young Marines is to help the young people who join this organization to achieve their full potential – self-discipline, patriotism, respect for others, academic excellence and a drug-free life style.

It is amazing to me that virtually every boy and girl who joins the Young Marines improves their grades in school. The Young Marines program, a national organization that works with American children throughout the nation, has really figured out what it takes to teach children to focus on learning, to take pride in doing well in school and to recognize that they have a responsibility to achieve in the classroom. Beyond that, JPSO Sergeant Bill Jones and his staff make a point of getting to know the principals and teachers at all the schools attended by Young Marines. If a Young Marine is having problems in school, the Young Marine leaders are there to help them.

Some might wonder why so many Sheriff’s Offices throughout Louisiana follow the example of the JPSO and sponsor a Young Marines program. The answer is that it costs far less to provide uniforms for a Young Marine than it does to keep a juvenile delinquent in jail. Since 1998, less than one percent of all the children who have passed through the Young Marine program has gotten into trouble with the law.

We are now taking applications for a new Young Marines class. I know that when they graduate from their training program, some parents will approach me and jokingly say, “What ever happened to the kid that I sent you? And who is this polite, well-behaved youngster who does his homework without being asked, helps his brothers and sisters, cleans his room and makes his bed?”

The answer, of course, is that the Young Marines program has transformed another young person into a responsible, mature leader of whom we can all be proud. If you know of a young person who might be helped by the Young Marines program, please call Sergeant Bill Jones or his staff at 363-5694. You’ll be glad that you did.


Education Is A Difference-Maker
Both In Law Enforcement and Personal Growth

I am very pleased that, working with our friends at Loyola University, we have been able to offer officers at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office a combined 85 percent tuition discount for those who enroll in Loyola’s Criminal Justice program.

I recently saw an article that praised Loyola as one of America’s outstanding small universities. Loyola is small only in terms of the size of its select student body and faculty. It is a great university and all of us at the JPSO are very pleased to be able to partner with them.

One of my most basic beliefs is that technology is the edge that law enforcement has over criminals. I also believe that it is education that gives law enforcement professionals the ability to use the technology that enables us to find out who committed the crime, arrest them and assist the District Attorney in getting a conviction.

A Loyola University degree is a passport to personal growth, professional development and fulfillment.

Even with an 85 percent tuition discount, undertaking a university education can be a daunting challenge for a police officer. Besides having a demanding full-time job, most police officers have family responsibilities. I’m sure there are times in the lives of JPSO university students that 24 hours in a day doesn’t seem nearly enough.

Fortunately, both the ranking officers and the faculty at Loyola understand the pressures that descend on police officers who are going to school. Our officers who are in the program always mention that they get tremendous cooperation both from their commanding officers and the Loyola faculty members.

This important story cannot be told without mentioning the key role played by JPSO Colonel Tim Scanlan, Commander of our Crime Lab, and an adjunct member of the Loyola faculty. He has worked closely with officials at Loyola to create this remarkable program that gives every JPSO officer an 85 percent tuition discount if they should choose to pursue a university degree at Loyola.

Much credit should be given to Loyola’s administration for their willingness to work closely with local law enforcement with the aim of enhancing individuals who work in the criminal justice system and, ultimately, making our community a better, safer place.


 Prostitution Racket Degraded The Quality of Life
That Every Jefferson Parish Citizen Is Entitled To Enjoy

In Jefferson Parish, we take great pride in the excellent quality of life that we enjoy. In my opinion, every Jefferson Parish resident is entitled to a good quality of life that is free of crime and degradation.

For the residents of the four-block area surrounding La Village Motel on Manson Street near Airline Drive, the prostitutes who conducted their business at the motel were an embarrassment and blight on the neighborhood. The neighbors included a church, a school, businesses and a residential area. Recently, when the motel was demolished as the result of a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office investigation, many of the neighbors came over to tell me how pleased they were.

We could have put together an undercover operation and arrested several of the prostitutes. The District Attorney’s Office would surely have convicted them and they would have gone to jail for a time. But that would not have solved the long term problem. A prostitution operation in the middle of a nice Jefferson Parish neighborhood is a degradation of our quality of life. Our goal was to shut down the prostitution operation permanently.

Credit for that goes to JPSO Chief Deputy John Thevenot, Commander of the Special Operations Division; Captain Tom Angelica, Commander of the Vice Squad, and the men and women of the Vice Squad.

They came up with an innovative plan that gathered evidence against the motel owners that proved they knew of the prostitution operation on their premises. The investigation also clearly showed the owners of the motel over a period of years defrauded Jefferson Parish and its boards out of some $500,000 in sales taxes that were pocketed rather than paid into public coffers.

The owners of the motel were glad, in the end, to agree to a deal that called for the demolition of the motel and the public auction of the land the motel had occupied. My hope is that whoever purchases the land will have in mind a higher and better use of it.

I am grateful for the cooperation of the Jefferson Parish School Board, which was defrauded of sales taxes, and the Parish Council. Councilwoman Cynthia Lee Sheng has been an outstanding and courageous leader in the effort to rid Jefferson Parish of blight and businesses that try to cheat on the payment of sales taxes.

The JPSO is aware that there are other prostitution operations in Jefferson Parish. It is our intention to, one by one, put them out of business. Their presence in our community degrades our quality of life. They have no business operating in Jefferson Parish.


In The Modern World,
Providing Security Is All Important

The world that Americans live in has certainly changed since the events of 9/11 a decade ago. Security in public buildings and airports has become an accepted practice. We are used to emptying our pockets at metal detectors. We expect to see uniformed security officers in public buildings and at many public events.

In fact, the presence of security has become a part of our daily routines and many of us scarcely notice the presence of police officers when we enter a courtroom, for example. Jefferson Parish is certainly no exception to this.

In the Government Building in Gretna, the Gretna Police Department is responsible for security at the front door and the exits. GPD personnel operate metal detectors, amiably greeting members of the public as they enter the building.

In the courtrooms of the 24th Judicial District, the parish courts and the juvenile courts, members of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Judicial Security team provide protection for the judges, court personnel and the public.

While we have come to take their presence for granted, both the Gretna Police Department and the JPSO provide a vital function in the Government Building – these officers are responsible for the safety of all who enter the building.

As it happens, the Gretna Police Department and the JPSO have an excellent working relationship. Our officers work together frequently and have great respect for each other. Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson and I take pride in the way that our departments cooperate. So it is no surprise that the GPD and JPSO security teams in the Government Building work together as though they were a single unit.

The JPSO team, under the command of Captain Vernon Schlief, and the GPD team, under the command of Lieutenant Gerald LaCour, are veteran officers who enjoy working together. What is most important is that all of the officers who are assigned to security work at the Government Building take their jobs very seriously. Their professionalism is outstanding.

The public who use the Jefferson Parish Government Building, along with the judges and court personnel, can be confident that the Gretna Police Department and the JPSO Judicial Security team are on the job and ready to respond to any emergency.


Recent Successes Are Good,
But We Have To Keep Working
To Get Better

We have just introduced a new eight-hour in-service training program for our Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division.

It will include classroom work on the legal aspects of the use of force by police officers and work on the firing range on tactical considerations regarding the use of force.

Someone who doesn’t know us well might wonder why this extra training is necessary, given that in 2010 the JPSO reported a 13.6 percent drop in the seven major categories of crime compared to 2009 and the lowest number of major crimes in Jefferson Parish since 1974.

The answer, of course is that you can’t stand still in any business, including law enforcement. You’re either getting better or getting worse. While we are very proud of the achievements of our Patrol Division, we think it’s always possible to improve our skills. This eight-hour training program will emphasize knowledge of the legal aspects of use of force by police officers and familiarity with weapons, but the real point of the training is good decision-making. When is use of force appropriate? A JPSO Patrol officer is equipped with a handgun, a taser, a baton and pepper spray. If force is to be used, which weapon is appropriate for the situation and within the bounds of what is legal? An officer often has only seconds to make these decisions that might be life and death. Clearly, these are questions that every police officer needs to consider.

The new in-service program will also include work on individual and team tactics in situations where officers confront armed perpetrators. The JPSO is fortunate that we have the resources for this kind of intensive training program. For that we are grateful to the people of Jefferson Parish who make it possible for our officers to be among the best-equipped and best-trained in the region. Thanks to our excellent community support, we have been able to reduce major crimes in unincorporated Jefferson to the lowest level since 1974. Far from satisfied, we intend to keep improving.


2010 Was A Good Year For Fighting Crime,
Now We Have To Make 2011 Equally Good

All of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office are pleased by our outstanding results in 2010. The 13.6 percent reduction of crime in the seven major categories was superb. None of us imagined at the beginning of 2010 that we would reduce the volume of crime in unincorporated Jefferson to the lowest level going back all the way to 1974, 37 years ago.

And what do we do for an encore in 2011?

The one thing that we know for sure is that we can’t rest on our laurels. The arrests we made in 2010 and the convictions that we helped the District Attorney attain don’t carry over to 2011. The one thing we know for sure is that 2011 is a new year that is certain to present its own unique challenges and we will have to respond.

We will continue to improve our facilities. A good example is the new JPSO Crime Lab that is being hailed by law enforcement leaders in our region as one of the finest facilities of its kind. We will also continue to emphasize education. We send outstanding JPSO officers to the finest law enforcement schools in the nation so that they can be the best at what they do. And, we will continue to recruit smart, capable young men and women to become the new generation of JPSO officers. We are very proud of the JPSO Training Academy and Firing Range, both of which combine excellent facilities and an outstanding faculty.

Some things don’t require change. The JPSO five-minute response time to emergency calls has become a proud tradition. It is a point of pride that our response to an emergency call often finds two or more police cars arriving at the scene within five minutes.

We will continue to improve our readiness for emergencies. We have been very fortunate in avoiding hurricanes the last several years but we know that we can’t depend on luck. The JPSO has more helicopters, heavy trucks, boats and other emergency equipment than ever before. But we also know that in an emergency, we’ll need all of it.

The JPSO is a very proud organization that takes great satisfaction in the reduction of crime. But we know that 2011 will pose new challenges and emergencies. We are very appreciative of the wonderful support that we receive from the residents of Jefferson Parish. Whatever 2011 brings our way, you can be sure we’ll be ready to respond.


We’re Glad To Share Information,
Insights With Visitors From Overseas

Each year, a delegation of Chinese police officials visits the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Their visit is part of a national tour that brings them to Hartford, Conn., Quantico, Va. and Los Angeles, in addition to their visit to Louisiana.

We are pleased to welcome them. There is a bond between professional law enforcement officers that grows out of similar experiences whether the police officer is located in Wuhan Province, China with a population of 11 million or Jefferson Parish with a population of less than 500,000.

Police officers also share a common interest in technology. I have often said that it is technology that gives law enforcement an edge over criminals. This is true whether the police force numbers 20,000, as it does in Wuhan, or 1,500 as it does at the JPSO.

This year, our Chinese visitors were especially interested in our new JPSO Crime Lab, our bomb defusing robot, the use of tasers and the inventory of heavy equipment maintained by our LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) Division. Just as in Louisiana, the police in Wuhan have to be ready at all times for natural disasters that put the population at risk. In Louisiana, we worry about hurricanes, levee breaks and heavy rainfalls that cause devastating flooding. In China, they worry about earthquakes, tornadoes and flooding caused by heavy rainfalls or the collapse of dams. Our visitors were very interested in our experiences during Hurricane Katrina, what we learned from it and how we have revamped our emergency plans because of what we learned.

These exchanges between Chinese and U.S. police officers are the product of the innovative thinking of Dr. Henry Lee of Hartford, Conn. Dr. Lee is a long-time friend of the JPSO who helped us plan and design the new Crime Lab. It is a source of amusement to Dr. Lee and to us that each year, when asked to choose their favorite stop on their tour of the U.S., the Chinese visitors invariably say their best experience was their visit to Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. We are pleased that our Chinese friends enjoy Southern hospitality and we will try to continue to impress them with our professionalism, our equipment and our cordiality.


Future of JPSO Depends On Our Ability To Recruit,
Train Outstanding Individuals

There is plenty of elation and pride at the JPSO following our announcement that the seven major categories of crime dropped 13.6 percent in 2010 compared to 2009. The fact is that crime in unincorporated Jefferson Parish was the lowest it has been since 1974. This is an incredible achievement. The men and women of the JPSO have every right to be proud.

But, as proud as we are, we also know that what happened in 2010 has no impact on 2011. Our challenge is to be just as good, effective, determined and efficient in 2011 as we were in 2010. And, that is why the recent graduation of 33 recruits from the JPSO Training Academy to become full-fledged police officers in the JPSO is so important. The 1,500 men and women who work for the JPSO are one of the best law enforcement organizations in the state, in the region and in the nation. But, to stay at the level of excellence that we've reached, the JPSO must continue to recruit and train outstanding police officers who can meet our high standards.

I'm very enthused about or recent graduates. They were outstanding in all aspects of their training. Their grades were excellent, allowing each and everyone of them to pass the state examination to become a certified police officer. Much has already been said about Deputy Alton Wilson, the 61-year-old President of the recruit class. He is certainly a remarkable guy. Inspired by his participation in our JPSO Citizen's Academy, he sent in an application to become a member of the recruit class. It was soon obvious that Deputy Wilson is a 61-year-old capable of excelling in the classroom, in the field and on the firing range. And, he did. He not only was an outstanding student but also an outstanding leader for his recruit class.

I am certain that Deputy Wilson will be a very active JPSO Reserve officer who will excel in whatever assignments he is given. We welcome him to our ranks. If you might be interested in joining the JPSO, please call our Personnel Office at 376-2333. Perhaps you too can meet our high standards and become part of this remarkable organization.


At A Time When Many Families Are Struggling,
JPSO Gift Baskets Filled With Turkeys and Groceries
Truly Represent The Spirit of Christmas

Ordinarily, the volunteers of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office each year produce about 2,000 Thanksgiving baskets for needy families in Jefferson Parish. This year, because of the recession, our volunteers wanted to do more. The anonymous donor, who has been underwriting the cost of Thanksgiving baskets for some 25 years, generously agreed to provide the funding for Christmas baskets also because of the obvious need.

I’m just sorry that the public can’t see our JPSO volunteers at work. They are simply awesome. Each of them has their own families and friends to take care of in the holiday season but they have volunteered to provide Christmas baskets for people they don’t know and may never meet. They are a tremendous, hard-working and efficient work force who know how to get things done.

I am especially grateful to Cops & Clergy, our JPSO alliance with ministers on both the East and West Banks of Jefferson Parish. Deputy Chief Richard Rodrigue, Sergeant David Green and Deputy Wayne Himes of Cops & Clergy were simply outstanding in this year’s volunteer effort. We could not have done this without the help of the clergy and our JPSO district commanders. We are also grateful to Roy Zuppardo who has adopted our cause and made it his own and the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Why do our JPSO volunteers take on this task? The answer lies in the faces of the senior citizens and the children when they see the turkey and the other goodies that fill the gift baskets. Even Scrooge’s heart would be melted by the elation of the recipients of the Thanksgiving and Christmas gift baskets. All of those who contributed to this incredible and efficient volunteer effort deserve a standing ovation. By their efforts, they assist us in defining the true meaning of Christmas by giving to those whose pantries were empty. In that spirit, please allow me to wish you a Happy New Year.


To All The Drivers Who Didn’t Drink and Drive,
Who Drove Defensively and Carefully,
Thank You Very Much For Saving Lives

From a traffic safety standpoint, I’m happy to say that 2010 was a very good year in unincorporated Jefferson Parish. We reduced the number of traffic fatalities from 13 in 2009 to four in 2010.

Part of the credit, I believe, goes to the men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Our officers did a great job of cracking down on those who drink and drive. As I have said repeatedly, the JPSO is not opposed to partying and social drinking. We are very much opposed to drinking and driving. Every year, three-fourths of the traffic fatalities in Jefferson Parish are alcohol-related. Two things happen when you drink and then drive – the first is that your reflexes are slowed by the effects of the alcohol and the second is that the alcohol gives you an inflated sense of power that makes you want to drive a little faster, take a few more chances and increases the odds that something terrible will happen before you get home.

And, part of the credit goes to the men and women who drive in Jefferson Parish. I think thousands of drivers have taken to heart our efforts to drum home the message that drinking and driving are incompatible. I think that more than ever, the drivers who use the roadways of Jefferson Parish are calling a taxicab or a designated driver after partying. And, that’s all that we ask. Don’t drink and drive. Drive defensively. Be careful.

And, finally, I want to take this occasion to wish each of you a wonderful 2011. I hope that your holiday season is a time of joy and love when friends and family share the good times. Please continue to drive safely. Let’s all have a great 2011.


The Most Special and Generous Christmas Gifts
Come Straight From The Heart

The annual Children’s Hospital Toy Drive is a wonderful example of just how generous this community is.

Each year, the employees of more than 100 companies and organizations and their families from throughout the metro area reach into their pockets to purchase toys for children they don’t know and in all likelihood will never meet.

I am very proud that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is one of the organizations that annually participate in the Children’s Hospital Toy Drive. I think that all of us who give are motivated in part by the fear that some child, lying in a bed at Children’s Hospital on Christmas Day, will go without gifts on the day when every boy and girl hopes to be remembered with presents. Indeed, I think the importance of a child being remembered is as important as the gift.

I think that because the employee’s of the Sheriff’s Office in the course of our work so often see children in terrible circumstances that is easy for us to imagine the heartbreak of a child forgotten on Christmas Day.

It is a source of great pride that we are part of this vast coalition of donors in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish who each year give thousands of gifts to the Children’s Hospital Toy Drive to be certain that no child is forgotten on Christmas Day.

I want to express my appreciation for the work of Alex Fisher, Jr., the West Bank resident, who got this annual toy drive started 19 years ago, and all the other volunteers who make the Toy Drive possible.

I am also grateful to the JPSO employees who give to the Toy Drive so generously. I know that JPSO families have their own children, grandchildren and relatives to select presents for. The fact that so many choose to give to anonymous children lying in hospital beds is a wonderful compliment to the generosity and caring of JPSO employees and their families.

Finally, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season. Please drive safely. May your holidays be filled with the laughter and love of family and friends.


JPSO Traffic Division Officers Doing Outstanding Job
Of Identifying, Arresting Drunken Drivers
Who Endanger Everyone On The Road

We are trying to change a harmful culture in Jefferson Parish. Historically, it has been considered no big deal to have a few drinks and then get behind the wheel of your vehicle and proceed home or on to another party.

From our perspective, as we study traffic fatalities, injuries and damage inflicted in traffic collisions, it is clear that alcohol is involved in almost three out of every four traffic accidents in unincorporated Jefferson. I want to emphasize that none of us at the JPSO are opposed to partying or social drinking. But we know, and you should know, that drinking and driving are incompatible. If you drink and drive, you increase the likelihood of being involved in a traffic accident by almost 75 percent.

The JPSO Traffic Division has taken the lead in our campaign to crack down on drunken drivers. Our DWI Checkpoints on both the East and West have led to the arrests of hundreds of persons who were driving while intoxicated. As we enter the final month of 2010, we have seen four traffic fatalities this year in unincorporated Jefferson, compared to 17 traffic fatalities in 2008 and 13 in 2009. Obviously, if we can maintain our present reduction in traffic fatalities, it would be a great achievement for all of us in Jefferson Parish. We will have saved lives.

We have plans for more DWI checkpoints on both the East and West Banks during the 2010 holiday season. We will be saturating both banks of the river with marked patrol cars looking for those who drink and drive. If you drink and drive, you will be arrested. You may lose your driver’s license. Jefferson Parish traffic court judges are cooperating with us. They have no sympathy for those who drink and drive.

So I am asking you, your family and your friends to emphasize safety this holiday season and throughout 2011. If you drink, don’t drive. Appoint a designated driver who isn’t drinking. Please drive defensively, don’t run red lights and STOP means STOP. Reduce your speed and don’t drive recklessly. If you find yourself running late, don’t worry about it. It’s much better to be late than to be involved in a traffic accident that puts your life and the lives of others at risk.

Finally, let’s all combine our efforts to make this holiday season both the most joyous in memory and the safest that Jefferson Parish has seen in many years. Enjoy the holiday season. Stay safe, and Happy Holidays.


The JPSO Thanks The Jefferson Chamber of Commerce
For Their Constant Support and Encouragement

I really enjoyed my recent opportunity to address the Jefferson Parish Chamber of Commerce. They are great business and civic leaders who are committed to the greatness of Jefferson Parish, both as a center of business and a wonderful, safe place to live.

It was a special pleasure to share with them the news that we will at year’s end be able to report a 10 percent decrease in the seven major categories of crime when compared to 2009. That is certainly good news and gives further weight to the point that Jefferson Parish is one of the safest places to live and work of its size in the United States.

That is also a reflection of the fact that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is and will continue to be one of the best law enforcement agencies in our region. That is a credit to the 1,500 men and women of the JPSO and also to the taxpayers of Jefferson Parish who have made it clear that safe streets is their highest priority. We are a well-trained, well-equipped and well-prepared law enforcement agency that knows what to do, how to do it and goes about doing our job every day.

All of this gives us reason to be very optimistic about the future of Jefferson Parish, both as an economic engine for the region and as a good place to live and raise a family.

At the same time, even as we emphasize our optimism, there is no getting around the fact that the illegal drug trade has been contained, not eradicated. So long as an 18 or 19-year-old drug dealer can earn $800 a day, there will be those who become drug dealers even if they realize that their inevitable fate will be prison or death at the hands of rival drug dealers. We will continue to arrest drug dealers and District Attorney Paul Connick will continue to convict drug dealers. But so long as new drug dealer recruits step forward to take the place of those who fall, the illegal drug trade will continue to be a problem not just in Jefferson Parish but everywhere.

Still, all things considered, as we come to the end of 2010, all of us who reside in Jefferson Parish have much to be thankful for. We live in a safe place where, despite the recession, there are thousands of good jobs. Hopefully, the recession will begin to fade in 2011 and our economy will become even stronger. I told the Chamber that I am very optimistic about the future of Jefferson Parish and I hope that you are too.


The Thanksgiving Baskets Prepared and Delivered
By JPSO and Our Partners Came From The Heart

Nowhere in the job description of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office does it say that we are required to assemble and deliver 2,000 Thanksgiving baskets, complete with turkeys and groceries. Joining with a group of wonderful partners, we gladly prepared and helped deliver the Thanksgiving baskets because we know they are needed and also because it made us feel good to help deserving people.

The JPSO has been giving Thanksgiving baskets for many years, but never so many as this year. It was certainly appropriate that we deliver 2,000 baskets in 2010 because there are so many homes in Jefferson Parish that were faced with a very bare Thanksgiving unless some help was received.

We had so many partners in our efforts this year. We are grateful to Cops & Clergy, a collaboration between the JPSO and churches on both the East and West Banks. Deputy Chief Richard Rodrigue, Sergeant David Green and Deputy Wayne Hines were outstanding in their efforts to help the clergy identify needy families and then deliver the completed baskets.

This year, we were joined by Roy Zuppardo, who is President of the Second Harvest Food Bank. He is an experienced executive who retired from the Zuppardo family grocery chain and he did a wonderful job for us. His expertise was a key factor in our being able to purchase enough groceries for 2,000 baskets to feed a family of four for several days.

Second Harvest made their facilities in Elmwood available to us, including their refrigeration system. Then, there was an anonymous donor who for many years has helped make the JPSO Thanksgiving baskets possible. Mr. Zuppardo probably summed it up for all of us when he said, “For many families in Jefferson Parish, Thanksgiving is a crisis because they don’t have anything to eat. Thanks to the JPSO and its partners, 2,000 families who might otherwise have done without had plenty to eat. I’m just proud to be part of such a wonderful team.”

I especially want to thank Captain Danny Blanchard and the volunteers from his Judicial Division who organized this massive effort and all the members of the JPSO who volunteered to help make sure that every Thanksgiving basket was filled to overflowing.

I hope too that Thanksgiving was a wonderful time for you and your family. It’s a pleasure and an honor for all of us at the JPSO to be able to give back to our community. Knowing that we had helped others made the Thanksgiving that we enjoyed with our families all the more special.


JPSO “Day At The Park” Is A Lot of Fun,
But There Is A Serious Side To It As Well

If you and your family haven’t ever attended a JPSO “Day At The Park,” held each year at Lafreniere Park, you really ought to plan on joining us next October for this fun event.

It is an opportunity to see the full range of vehicles, boats, helicopters and other tools that we use to do our job. It’s also an opportunity to see our nationally-recognized JPSO SWAT Team go through a series of drills, using helicopters, boats and armored vehicles. And, it’s likely that your kids will be fascinated by the JPSO drug-sniffing dogs that put on exhibitions of their remarkable ability to find hidden objects. They may even get a chance to pet Rex, a yellow Labrador who is one of the top drug-sniffing dogs in the nation.

But, there is also a serious side to JPSO “Day At The Park” from our point of view. This celebration of what we do also presents a relaxed opportunity for you, the taxpayers of Jefferson Parish, to meet members of the JPSO in a casual setting and get to know each other better. As I have often said, every time one of our officers gets in a JPSO helicopter, truck or armored vehicle or uses our state-of-the-art communications system, we should remember to be grateful to Jefferson Parish taxpayers who have made it possible for the JPSO to be one of the best-equipped law enforcement agencies in our region.

From my point of view, that is the most important outcome of “Day At The Park.”

We are extremely fortunate in Jefferson Parish to have an excellent relationship that binds our Sheriff’s Office closely to the community. That relationship has been built over the years and, in my opinion, it is as firm today as it has ever been. But the way to maintain that relationship in part is through events like “Day At The Park” where the public and police officers can enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other as friends.

I am also pleased to report that there were many compliments and few criticisms of my hamburger and hot dog grilling talents. I promise to practice up so that I’m at the very top of my grilling game next year for the JPSO “Day At The Park.” Please mark your calendar and plan on joining us next year at Lafreniere Park.


JPSO Is Glad To Work Cooperatively
With the Jefferson Parish
Mental Health Task Force

One of the most difficult and challenging tasks imposed on the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is the primary responsibility for handling commitments of the mentally ill.

There was a time when mental health agencies, who know a lot more about mental illness than do police officers, had this responsibility. We provided assistance but most of the work was done by medical professionals. However, with the state financial deficits and sharp cutbacks of beds and services available for the mentally ill, the responsibility for handling commitments has been increasingly shifted to law enforcement agencies, including the JPSO.

We are fortunate at the JPSO that our ranks include two officers who have been nationally recognized for their expertise in working with the mentally ill. They are Lieutenant Gil Rieth and Detective Keith Reaves. We are also fortunate that the entire mental health community in Jefferson Parish, including all the hospitals in the parish, have rallied to the task and are cooperatively working together to make sure there are facilities available for Lieutenant Rieth and Detective Reaves to deliver these patients.

However, the bad news is that even more cuts in mental health services are coming at the state level so the task of the Jefferson Parish Mental Health Task Force may soon become even more difficult.

Nevertheless, we welcome their intervention, assistance and cooperative attitude. We are delighted to work together with the Mental Health Task Force. All of our agencies are united by a desire to be sure that the mentally ill do not slip through the Jefferson Parish safety net.

I want to express my personal appreciation to Captain B.J. Wortmann, Commander of Project STAR; Lieutenant Rieth; Detective Reaves and other JPSO officers who have worked on the commitments of the mentally ill, as well as all the members of the Mental Health Task Force. The care of the mentally ill in times of sharp budget cutbacks is a huge challenge and responsibility. We are all committed to doing the right thing for the mentally ill, although forthcoming budgets may make that job even more difficult than it is at present.


JPSO Crime Lab Represents Commitment
To Technology In The Fight Against Crime

I have often said that technology is the most important edge that law enforcement has in the fight against crime. The best example of our commitment to technology is the new $16 million, 45,000 square foot Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab.

This is the first time in JPSO history that all the elements of the Crime Lab are together under one roof. The new building is state-of-the-art and is widely considered the finest Crime Lab in the Gulf South. It will serve us well for many years to come.

The purpose of the Crime Lab is to develop and present scientific evidence that will help the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office obtain convictions. In an era when many jurors are the fans of television shows like CSI and “Law & Order,” there is an expectation that a Crime Lab will present scientifically irrefutable evidence that proves the accused is indeed guilty of the crime. While the TV shows are often exaggerated, it is absolutely true that in this day and age, a Sheriff’s Office needs an excellent Crime Scene unit, a serology laboratory, a DNA Lab, the latest fingerprint technology, an indoor shooting range for elaborate real-time crime scene reconstruction as well as processing labs for analyzing clothing for gunshot residue.

With the new Crime Lab, we will be well-fixed to produce the kind of scientific evidence that prosecutors need to convict criminals.

For those of us who remember the original JPSO Crime Lab of 35 years ago, the new four-story facility is like a space ship ready to take off. We are especially grateful to Milton Dureau, Director of Laboratory Services, and Colonel Tim Scanlan, Crime Lab Director, both of whom helped plan the new building.

No expression of delight about the Crime Lab can be complete without expressing our thanks to the taxpayers of Jefferson Parish who have made safe streets their top priority. The purpose of the new Crime Lab is to provide the evidence that will secure convictions and make the safe streets that we all seek attainable.


When Deciding on Gifts To Non-Profit Organizations,
Please Be Sure To Include Crimestoppers On Your List

I recently attended two fundraisers that attracted large crowds of citizens from throughout the metro area and raised tens of thousands of dollars for Crimestoppers.

It seems to me that is good news. Crimestoppers, a non-profit organization that solicits anonymous tips in the fight against crime, deserves tremendous support from the community. Crimestoppers, under the excellent leadership of Darlene Cusanza and a board of unpaid volunteers, is a crucial organization in the fight against crime. Very often, people who have inside knowledge about a crime and the criminals who perpetrated the crime, will only talk if they are certain that their information is given anonymously and will lead to their receiving a cash reward.

Crimestoppers, since 1981, gives them that assurance. For a variety of reasons, the people who can identify the criminals responsible for a crime, don’t want to talk to the police or anyone associated with the police. Crimestoppers fills the role of a go-between whose only interest is tracking down a criminal whose identity might otherwise not be known. The informant can feel safe in dealing with Crimestoppers.

There is no better example of how effective Crimestoppers can be than the recent case where a 2-year-old was murdered by bullets fired in a New Orleans drive-by shooting. Crimestoppers quickly posted a major reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooters. Almost just as quickly, Crimestoppers’ phone began ringing with tips that led to the arrests of persons that New Orleans police believe was responsible for the child’s death. In Jefferson, we have also seen on many occasions that Crimestoppers is incredibly effective.

New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas is a friend of long standing. I am very pleased that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu selected Chief Serpas to lead the NOPD. Just for laughs, Chief Serpas and I recently swapped uniforms for a Crimestoppers fundraiser. He came as a JPSO officer and I came in the uniform of an NOPD officer. But, as Chief Serpas noted, the larger point is that we work well together and cooperate. We both want the same thing – safe streets in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.

I know that you have many hard choices to make as you decide where you will send your philanthropic dollars. There are literally hundreds of deserving non-profit organizations in our metro area. I urge you to give serious consideration to Crimestoppers. It is a wonderful non-profit organization that is a crucial element in the fight against crime. We need Crimestoppers to be fully funded to help us capture the criminals who threaten our regional community.


Juvenile Crime Is A Threat
To Quality of Life We Enjoy In Jefferson Parish

Juvenile crime is a growing threat to the safe streets of Jefferson Parish. Juvenile offenders are more brazen and violent than ever before.

I certainly do not mean to suggest that every child in Jefferson Parish is a juvenile delinquent. The vast majority of young people in our parish go to school, follow the rules and don’t cause any serious problems for their parents or for law enforcement. But, the minority of children who choose to deliberately and maliciously violate our laws are more dangerous and violent than any of the juvenile delinquents of years past.

Fortunately, for Jefferson Parish, the JPSO Juvenile Crimes Division does an excellent job in dealing with juvenile crime. Led by Captain Michael Alwert, the Juvenile Division includes experienced officers who are knowledgeable about juvenile crime and know first hand many of the juveniles who break the law. It is ironic, as Captain Alwert notes, that our Juvenile Division officers with 20 years experience now find themselves arresting the children of individuals who were arrested as juvenile delinquents when they were children.

We work constantly with the Juvenile Court judges, the District Attorney and Jefferson Parish legislative delegation to strengthen the laws involving juvenile delinquency. It concerns Captain Alwert, the judges, the DAs and all of us that many of the juveniles who are arrested have no fear or concern of the Juvenile Court or possible punishments they might receive. Where there is no respect for the law, there is often fearless criminal activity. This is a serious problem that deserves consideration by our entire community.


JPSO Secretaries Deserve Recognition
For the Great Work That They Do

I am in complete agreement with my colleagues who have lavished much-deserved praise on the secretaries of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. All of us who work at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office know at first hand that the secretaries play a crucial role in the workings of our organization. In the 30 years that I have spent at the JPSO, I have seen countless examples of secretaries providing the efficient work that makes a difference. We are both a family and a team at the JPSO. Every successful arrest, every life saved and every crime solved is a credit to every member of our family.

In my own career, I have been incredibly fortunate in working with my executive assistant, Toma Kass, for the past 17 years. She is a 22-year employee of the JPSO. I am also fortunate in being able to work with my secretary, Tracy Eddy, a 25-year JPSO employee. I agree also with the praise that has been showered on Shirley Guagliardo, 35-year JPSO employee; Linda Lusignan, a 30-year JPSO employee, and Harriet Turner, a 28-year JPSO employee. Part of what makes our organization so successful is the abundance of outstanding employees who could retire but instead choose to continue working because it gives them satisfaction and fulfillment to do so. I have worked with Ms. Guagliardo, Ms. Lusignan and Ms. Turner. They are excellent at their jobs and I hope they keep coming to work for many years to come.

I think Shirley Guagliardo put it best when she said, “I keep coming to work everyday because I like the people and I like the work. Being around the people and the work makes me feel good.” If you went from department to department at the JPSO, you would find employees – police officers, clerical personnel, secretaries and others – who have 20, 25, 30, 35 and even 40 years experience and keep coming to work every day because they like the people they work with and their jobs.

We have a remarkable team at the JPSO. If you think that you might enjoy joining our special family, please call the JPSO Personnel Department at 376-2333.


Project Star is A Good Idea
That Has Gotten Better With Age

I can still remember the hard work that went into the development of the Project Star concept back in 1993.

Back then, one of the major problems facing Jefferson Parish and the JPSO was the appearance of scores of street corner drug dealers selling crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is highly addictive and those who use it often turn to crime to fund further purchases of crack cocaine

One of the roles of Project Star from the beginning was to locate officers in Jefferson’s highest crime neighborhoods and arrest street corner drug dealers.

Today, the fact that Project Star officers are still arresting a new generation of street corner crack cocaine dealers is a comment on the profit margins in the illegal dope business that cause young people to ply that trade even knowing they will be arrested and sentenced to jail.

In addition, we have found many other uses for Project Star officers. They work closely with Jefferson Parish Code Enforcement, handle JPSO extraditions and mental health commitments.

In most instances, law enforcement task forces have a short life and soon are terminated because they have served their purpose. But Project Star is a good idea that has gotten better with the passing years and continues to have an excellent future before it.


We Appreciate The Determination
Of Recruits Who Meet Our High Standards

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has been fortunate over the years to attract high-caliber individuals who are interested in careers in law enforcement.

The current class at the JPSO Training Academy is a good example of our recruiting success. They are attending classes at night in a six-month program. It is very demanding and made all the more so because most members of the class have full-time jobs during the day and family responsibilities as well. To handle all of these responsibilities at work and at home as well as in the classroom requires a lot of determination and focus. Those are the same qualities that will make them successful police officers.

Recruits who attend the JPSO Training Academy must excel both scholastically and in the field, which includes handling weapons, self defense as well as maximizing personal strength and endurance.

Much of the credit for our outstanding recruit classes goes to the JPSO Personnel Department which does an excellent job of identifying the kind of experience and the characteristics that make success as a police officer likely. For example, we have found over the years that recruits with a background in the military are most likely to do well at the Training Academy and as police officers.

We are especially fortunate at the JPSO that we have many outstanding role models and mentors who have had long careers. It is from these veterans that our recruits learn about the pride and high standards that are required at the JPSO.

If you know of someone who might want to learn more about a career in law enforcement, please suggest to them that they call the JPSO Personnel Department at 376-2333.


Realistic Training Prepares JPSO Officers
For Life-and-Death Situations

Most JPSO officers go through a 30-year career without ever firing their weapons, except on the firing range.

But, each year, several JPSO officers find themselves in situations where they must decide whether or not to fire their weapons. Often, in these situations, innocent bystanders are nearby. Frequently, so are other JPSO officers. Therefore, it is critical that if our officers fire their weapons that they fire accurately without placing bystanders or other officers in jeopardy.

It is my belief that the best way to prepare officers for these dangerous situations is through realistic training that includes the use of live ammunition. That is the essence of the advanced firearms training that I have made mandatory for every JPSO officer who carries a weapon.

There is no way for us to know which of our 1,400 officers will find themselves in a situation where he or she must decide whether to fire their weapon and at whom. So we are going to prepare everyone in the JPSO who might find themselves in a life-and-death situation on how to handle it.

I am very appreciative of the work of JPSO Captain Jeff Eddy, Commander of our Firing Range, and his staff who have come up with an excellent curriculum for the advanced firearms training program. Many of the officers who have been through the training have pronounced it to be outstanding. It reflects my belief that realistic training for police officers protects the community and saves lives.


If A Storm Threatens,
Is Your Hurricane Evacuation Plan
Ready To Be Implemented?

At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, we spend thousands of hours planning our response to a hurricane.

I hope that your hurricane plan, which should include evacuation if necessary, is ready to be implemented. As we all know, the fact that we haven’t had a hurricane head our way yet is no cause for celebration. We are still in the September danger zone.

So, I hope that your hurricane evacuation plan is drawn up in detail. As we all learned during Hurricane Katrina, riding out a storm is not a good idea. If an evacuation order is given for Jefferson Parish, everyone needs to go.

If your evacuation plan calls for staying with friends or relatives, have you worked out the arrangements in detail? If you need special medications for members of your family, have you stored them away? Do you have copies of important documents in a waterproof container, ready to go with you when you evacuate? Have you made plans for your pets? I could go on and on with another hundred questions but I’m sure you’ve gotten the point. A hurricane evacuation plan involves hundreds of details. You don’t want to wait until a hurricane is in the Gulf to start planning. Another lesson of Hurricane Katrina is that the sooner you leave, the easier your evacuation will be. The longer you wait to leave, the more traffic you’ll have to contend with.

We are all hoping that we’ll remember 2010 as a year when it wasn’t necessary to evacuate. So far, so good! But the hurricane season is far from over and there is no reason to become complacent. At the JPSO, we take hurricane preparation, planning and response very seriously. I’m hoping that you take hurricane planning and evacuation just as seriously as we do.


Thanks To American Legion For
Recognition Of Outstanding JPSO Officers

All of us at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office are grateful to the American Legion Post 222 for their recognition of two outstanding JPSO officers.

The recognition of Detective Rhonda Goff as Police Officer of the Year is certainly fitting. Detective Goff’s arrest of three gunmen outside of the Gomez Bar in 2008 set in motion the roundup of the five men who participated in the holdup of the bar and the murders of three victims. Today, two of the five holdup men have been convicted and the other three are awaiting trial. If Detective Goff had not stopped her car and gone to investigate two men dragging a third man outside the bar, it is far from certain that any of the holdup gang would have been identified and arrested.

Detective Goff, now assigned to the JPSO Homicide Bureau, is blessed with a special instinct that often tells experienced police officers that something isn’t quite right and requires a closer look.

She is indeed an excellent choice for Police Officer of the Year. All of us who work with her are pleased that she has been recognized locally and nationally.

The American Legion’s recognition of Deputy Manuel Estrada was also fitting. Finding himself confronted by an armed man threatening to kill himself, Deputy Estrada held his ground for 45 minutes just 10 feet away from the gun. Like Detective Goff, Deputy Estrada is blessed with a policeman’s instinct that told him the threatened suicide could be averted if he could win the trust of the man with the gun. Forty-five harrowing minutes later, the man with the gun agreed to give up the weapon and to go with JPSO officers to the hospital for medical and psychological treatment.

I agree with Mel Gaspard, Commander of American Legion Post 222 in Marrero, that the awards given to Detective Goff and Deputy Estrada are reflective of the special bond that links the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the community we serve. There is a special bond between the JPSO and the people of Jefferson Parish that unites us in the ongoing battle to keep the street of Jefferson safe.

This bond is reflected in the awards given our officers by the American Legion and in the commitment and professionalism of Detective Goff and Deputy Estrada. At the JPSO, we are very proud that we have seen significant reductions in the seven major categories of crime during 2010. We are also proud that we get to work every day with outstanding law enforcement officers like Detective Rhonda Goff and Deputy Manuel Estrada.


Louisiana Special Olympics Is A Wonderful Cause

There are many wonderful, non-profit causes in our state that are deserving of our support and best efforts. At the very top of my personal list of good causes is the Louisiana Special Olympics.

It’s difficult to convey the full meaning and emotional impact of seeing hundreds of children and adults with disabilities participating in a Special Olympics. You really have to see it for yourself to fully appreciate the work of Louisiana Special Olympics. Let me just say that the spectacle fully lives up to the motto of the Special Olympics, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” All of those Special Olympians are very brave and it will tug at your heart to behold their courageous efforts.

That is why my colleagues at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and I are pleased to assist the Louisiana Special Olympics’ annual fundraising effort known as “Over The Edge.”

Here in Louisiana, it is a two-part event. The first part is an opportunity to rappel from the roof of the Benson Tower 26 stories to the ground. This is made possible by the participation of Rita Benson LeBlanc, Vice President of the New Orleans Saints and a great supporter of Louisiana Special Olympics. Ms. Benson LeBlanc and I rappelled from the roof of the Benson Tower at the same time and I can tell you that in a short time she has become an expert at rappelling.

The second part of “Over The Edge” is an opportunity to fly a JPSO helicopter to our Training Academy on the West Bank. There, with the assistance of members of the JPSO SWAT Team, “Over The Edge” participants get to perform SWAT Team drills and fire SWAT Team weapons on our indoor firing range. Obviously, this is a rare opportunity and the 42 “Over The Edge” participants had a great time.

In Louisiana, Special Olympics have an annual budget of more than $2.5 million so every contribution is important and appreciated. I hope that you will consider either participating in “Over The Edge” next year or sponsoring someone who would enjoy this rare opportunity. This year, we had 42 participants in “Over The Edge” and we’d love to double that number in 2011. Thanks to this year’s participants and to the members of the JPSO SWAT Team who were excellent hosts for our visitors. Special thanks to Rita Benson LeBlanc who helped organize this year’s event and is already thinking about next year. Please give whatever you can to support the Louisiana Special Olympics. It’s a cause well worth supporting.


If Defensive Driving Is Crucial For The Public,
Then It’s Also Important For Police Officers

For many years before I was elected Sheriff of Jefferson Parish, one of my jobs was reviewing every JPSO accident report.

One of the things that I learned from that job is that even the most experienced driver can have a momentary lapse and back into a telephone pole. It can happen to anyone and those who don’t understand how easy it is to be completely distracted don’t know themselves very well.

If you read this column occasionally, you probably know that I am near-fanatical when it comes to emphasizing defensive driving techniques. I constantly tell members of the public that the most important traffic safety technique is defensive driving. I like to emphasize that you should be aware of every vehicle around you and you should be prepared to react just in case one of those drivers does something that is incredibly dumb and dangerous.

As I look at the dozens of JPSO accident reports, it is also clear to me that it isn’t just the driving public that needs to be reminded of the importance of defensive driving. I think we have hundreds of expert drivers in the JPSO who have spent many years and thousands of hours behind the wheel of their vehicle in every possible circumstance. But, even so, the most expert of our drivers have lapses that lead to accidents. After the smash-up, their first comment often is, “I honestly don’t know how that could have happened.”

That is why I have mandated a defensive driving course for each of our employees. There is a classroom component and a driving component to the course. We are using the AARP Driver Safety Program which I think is the best that is available.

Safe driving requires focus. Members of the public have thousands of accidents in Jefferson Parish every year because drivers aren’t focused on safe driving. There are thousands of possible distractions competing for the attention of drivers, from kids in the back seat to a ringing cell phone. The same is true for a police officer who has to have a multi-track brain that enables them to focus on safe driving while listening to a dispatcher and being aware of what is happening on an adjacent sidewalk. That isn’t easy, but it can be done and done well.

The point of the defensive driving course I now require for our police officers is to put traffic safety in the front of their priorities. I hope you will take the view that if defensive driving is absolutely essential for a police officer, then it is surely equally important for the driving public. Please drive defensively. Please drive safely.


If We Can Stop People From Drinking and Driving,
We Can Reduce Traffic Accidents, Injuries and Deaths

I have for a long time believed there is a direct correlation between drinking and driving and traffic accidents, property damage, injuries and even deaths.

This year, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has put tremendous emphasis on cracking down on drinking and driving. We have each month set up DWI checkpoints on the East and West Banks in areas we believe are prone to DWI arrests and accidents involving injuries and fatalities. Many of our officers are now certified to give Field Sobriety Tests that are acceptable in court. We have in every way possible sent out the message, “Do not drink and drive in Jefferson Parish. We’re not against those who choose to drink and have a good time. But, if you chose to drink, then bring along a designated driver or call a taxicab to take you home.”

I am very pleased that as of August 1, 2010, there have only been two traffic fatalities in unincorporated Jefferson Parish. I believe that is the lowest number of traffic fatalities recorded as of August 1 in the last 15 years. In 2009, there were 13 traffic fatalities in unincorporated Jefferson and in 2008, there were 17 traffic fatalities. While it is too early to say for sure, it is very likely there is a clear link between our crackdown on drinking and driving and the reduction in traffic fatalities.

I hope you will take this as seriously as I do. If you’re going to drink, plan ahead and include a designated driver or call a taxicab. Anyone who gets behind the wheel of their vehicle after drinking vastly increases the chances that they will be involved in an accident. In Jefferson Parish, the high volume of accidents, property damage, injuries and deaths is directly connected to the habit of drinking and driving. To save lives, avoid injuries and reduce the terrible property damage involved in traffic accidents, we have to change the culture. The message I would like everyone to understand is that it is not socially acceptable to drive and drive while under the influence.

The other thing I would ask you to do is to become conscious of driving defensively. The volume of traffic in Jefferson Parish is higher than it has ever been. You can significantly reduce the odds of your being in an accident if you drive within the posted speed limit, don’t run red lights, don’t slide through stop signs and don’t drive recklessly.

My hope is that we can go through the rest of the year without another traffic fatality in Jefferson Parish. That would be a wonderful, life-saving accomplishment. Please help me with this most important message by sharing this with your family and friends.


Senior Citizens, Please Beware Of
Fraudulent Contractors

If it were possible to bring together all the senior citizen homeowners of Jefferson Parish in a big stadium, one of the primary things I would want to warn them against is allowing fraudulent contractors to work on their homes.

But, how, you might ask, is a senior citizen to know who is a fraudulent contractor and who is a legitimate contractor?

One major clue is that in Jefferson Parish, legitimate contractors don’t go door to door trying to talk homeowners into letting them work on their roofs. Legitimate contractors don’t have to do that. They have plenty of work. People call them. If an alleged contractor rings your doorbell and tells you that he’s seen a defect in your roof and offers to fix it for you, there is a 99.9 percent likelihood this is a fraudulent contractor. Don’t let him in the door. Don’t give him permission to work on your property. If he won’t leave, call the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and we’ll send out a car to be sure he leaves. We’ll also check to see if he’s wanted for bilking other senior citizens.

It’s a shame to have to report that there are probably hundreds of fraudulent contractors who come to Jefferson Parish for the specific purpose of bilking senior citizens. They pretend to work on a senior citizen’s home and then present them an outrageous bill for work that was never actually done.

I’m pleased to report that the JPSO recently arrested Robbie Wharton, Jr. of Gonzales and his son, Robbie Wharton III who pleaded guilty to bilking 29 Jefferson Parish senior citizens out of $87,000 for work that was never done. That is, we know of 29 victims of this duo. There may have been many more. Often, senior citizens realize they have been cheated but are so embarrassed that they don’t report the fraud.

A Jefferson Parish judge sentenced the Wharton’s to 10 years in prison, but then suspended the sentence. He placed them on five years probation and ordered them, under the supervision of the court, to repay their victims the sum of $90,000.

Credit for the arrest goes to Colonel Ken Meynard, head of JPSO Property Crimes section; Detective Stanley Brown and Sergeant Troy Bradberry.

It was these officers who were able to identify the Wharton’s from the descriptions they received from the victims, tracked them to Gonzales, made the arrest and worked with the Jefferson Parish DA’s Office to compile such a strong case that the Wharton’s entered a guilty plea. Of the Wharton’s 29 victims that we found, the youngest was in his 70s and the oldest was in his 90s.

But there are many other fraudulent contractors trying to find senior citizens of whom they can take advantage. All of us who have senior citizen parents and grandparents living in Jefferson Parish need to be sure they are aware of the threat that fraudulent contractors pose to their savings. The safest course for senior citizens is to never allow alleged contractors who ring your doorbell to work on your home. And, if they persist and won’t leave the premises, please call the JPSO. We’ll help you get rid of them.


How To Save Our Children:
Teach Them Self-Discipline,
Develop Their Talents,
No Drugs, A College Diploma

In the course of 30 years in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, I have seen thousands of children who have gone wrong and wasted their lives.

But, I have also seen thousands of children who, with the help of their parents, teachers, clergy and mentors, have gotten it right. These children have gone on to become responsible adults, raising their own families with a deep commitment to their community.

And, that is why, with a lot of help from my friends, I have created the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Band of Excellence. It is a marching band that will also give stage performances. I hope the band will one day number 165 and will be spoken of as the best band in our region. I know that is a tall order, but it’s my dream.

But excellence in music is only the start of what I dream about. I want the Band of Excellence to become an institution in Jefferson Parish that stands for excellence in all things – excellence in the classroom, excellence in the band room, excellence in performances, excellence in personal conduct and no drugs. My dream is that the Band of Excellence will instill in each of its members an unwavering commitment to go to college and earn a diploma. I know from my experiences in the Sheriff’s Office that a young person who goes to college and earns a diploma is on the right track to a good, productive life.

Although the Band of Excellence is only in its initial phase, there are already so many people I have to thank. I have tapped many of my friends who have donated more than $125,000 for instruments, band uniforms and other essentials. I’m sorry to say that I’m going to have to continue raising more money if we’re going to provide 165 kids uniforms and instruments.

I’m indebted to Band Director Hezekiah Brinson, Jr. and Assistant Band Director John Summers who are doing a great job of shaping the Band of Excellence. We look forward to working with the ministers of Cops and Clergy who have given us tremendous support. I am grateful also to JPSO Deputy Chief Richard Rodrigue and JPSO Sergeant David Green who have taken care of thousands of details in bringing my dream to reality.

Finally, although I am not nearly as talented a musician as the members of the Band of Excellence, I hope that one day they will invite me to join the drum line and perform with them. For a frustrated musician who admires real talent, that’s about as good as it could possibly get.


Another Group of Promising Recruits Make
Their Way Through JPSO’s Demanding Curriculum

We’re very proud of the fact that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is a good place to work.

Many of our officers are 20, 25, 30 and 35 year veterans. Some could have retired years ago but chose to stay on because they enjoy the work and their colleagues. Part of what makes the JPSO such an exceptional and effective organization is that we have so much senior leadership who really love their work and their colleagues.

But none of us can go on forever and none of us is irreplaceable. That is why we put so much emphasis on recruiting and graduating strong classes from the JPSO Training Academy.

I am very impressed by the potential of the recruits now making their way through the demanding and arduous JPSO Training Academy curriculum. The group of 35 recruits includes 15 women, which is more than in most classes. Like other JPSO recruit classes, this group includes a significant number of military veterans. We have found over the years that those who have military training in their background often make the best transition into law enforcement.

What is really unusual is the inclusion of a 61-year-old recruit in the group. In terms of years, Al Wilson is certainly one of the most senior recruits at the Training Academy. He applied for a slot in our recruit class after completing the JPSO Citizen’s Academy. Mr. Wilson has excellent credentials, having retired from a career as a civilian employee of the U.S. Coast Guard.

His fellow recruits have elected him as their Class President. We are delighted that Mr. Wilson was so impressed by our Citizen’s Academy that he wanted to join the JPSO.

Of course, Mr. Wilson and his fellow recruits still have more than four months to go. They will be tested many times, both on the academic side and their field training skills, including self-defense and firearms. I wish them well and look forward to their graduation.


JPSO Is Protecting Jefferson Canal Embankments
By Reducing Fast-Proliferating Nutria Population

Prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the JPSO SWAT Team regularly shot the thousands of nutria who live in the Jefferson Parish canal embankments. The nutria destroy the embankments by uprooting the vegetation and tunneling, at a cost of more than $750,000 a year to the parish.

After Hurricane Katrina, the JPSO was short of personnel and could no longer spare our sharpshooters to contend with the nutria population.

Interim Parish President Steve Theriot and the Parish Council recently agreed to help subsidize the cost of nutria control and we signed a two-year contract that commenced on May 25.

Since then, our sharpshooters from the JPSO SWAT Team have eliminated more than 1,300 nutria and Jefferson Parish Public Works Director Kalikhani Alikhani says that the reduction of the nutria population is saving Jefferson hundreds of thousands of dollars that previously needed to be used for drainage canal embankment upkeep.

We’re very pleased that we can be of assistance to the parish. Our SWAT Team members have done an excellent, safe job of shooting nutria without endangering any of the households adjacent to drainage canals. This requires great skill, constant focus and outstanding professionalism. Each five-member shooting team includes two shooters, a safety officer and a spotter. The fifth officer parks a patrol car with all of its lights ablaze next to the Drainage Department truck to alert oncoming traffic that they need to drive around the two vehicles. The shooting is done between midnight and 5 a.m. when traffic is lightest.

The parish is also going to embark on a pilot program to trap nutria. The pilot program will be carried out over a three-month period. The results of the pilot program will determine the effectiveness and financial affordability of trapping.

We’re glad to work with the Parish President, the Parish Council and the Drainage Department in an effort to control the nutria population of Jefferson Parish and maintain the drainage canal embankments. Much credit goes to our SWAT Team that has handled this assignment with safety as their first priority.


JPSO Commitment To Latest Technology
Draws International Attention

If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I believe that the use and mastery of technology is law enforcement’s perpetual edge in the fight against crime.

The inclusion of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in a U.S. tour by police officials from Fujian Province in China is another in a long series of compliments that tell us our interest and expertise in law enforcement technology has drawn the attention of police leaders throughout the world.

The delegation of 20 middle management police officials from Fujian Province came to Jefferson Parish to watch our communications, crime lab, LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue), incarceration and fingerprinting technology, equipment, facilities and personnel in action. They also visited the New York City Police Department, the Connecticut State Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, all of which are a lot larger than the JPSO which has responsibility for unincorporated Jefferson Parish. To be included in that list is quite a compliment for us. In addition, the Fujian Provincial Public Security forces oversee a population of 32 million with more than 40,000 police officers. While the sheer numbers are almost beyond our imagination, the technology applied at a crime scene or in a crime lab can be exactly the same, whether the location is in Central China or the Southeastern United States.

We are very pleased to host the police officers from Fujian Province. We are honored by the visit of the delegation from Fujian headed by Deputy Director General Shi Zhiquiang. I am appreciative of the efforts of the JPSO Community Relations Division that arranged the tour in Jefferson for the officers from Fujian. Lieutenant Bill Stravinsky who headed this effort for us did a fine job. We look forward to future visits from overseas police delegations. I think there will be special national and international interest in our new state-of-the-art Crime Lab that will be completed and opened this fall.


Working With BP, Coast Guard,
Jefferson Parish, Grand Isle
To Turn Back The Oil

I am incredibly proud of the men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office who have been assigned to provide security for the tremendous effort at Grand Isle to turn back the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

We have 44 officers in Grand Isle, as well as many of our JPSO helicopters, boats, trucks and four-wheel all-terrain vehicles. Our officers are in Grand Isle for a week or more at a time, away from their families. We do all that we can to make them comfortable, but it is a sacrifice for them. Our officers have responded superbly. They have a great attitude, work very hard often under difficult conditions and are doing an excellent job.

In fact, just moving all the JPSO equipment quickly to Grand Isle was quite a feat. Give credit to the JPSO LASER (Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue) for their fast response time. The lessons we learned from Hurricane Katrina have served us in good stead during the oil spill.

We have formed a unified Jefferson Parish command in Grand Isle with the Jefferson Parish Homeland Security team and with Grand Isle officials led by Mayor David Carmadelle. I am just really sorry that neither BP nor the federal government has consulted more with the Louisiana experts on tidal patterns and the wave tendencies near the beaches and wetlands. Many Louisiana families have worked in these waters for five, six or even seven generations. These Louisiana experts know more about these waters than anyone else in the world. But, in my opinion, they have been insufficiently consulted and the absence of their advice has made the work much more difficult.

In my view, the BP oil spill is an E and E (Ecology and Economic) event. We are watching the ecology part of this disaster unfold. The economic impact will come in the months ahead and I fear that it may have a devastating effect on the Jefferson Parish economy.

Given that we are not in charge, all we can do is everything that is asked of us. Our men and women have done that and done it very well. I am most appreciative of the efforts of Grand Isle Mayor David Carmadelle; Deano Bonano, head of Jefferson Parish Homeland Security; JPSO Lieutenant Tim Campbell and JPSO Lieutenant John Ladd. Lieutenants Campbell and Ladd are co-commanders of the JPSO detachment at Grand Isle and they have done an outstanding job.

Like everyone else in Louisiana, I pray that the impact of the BP oil spill will not be a long-lasting event that is still affecting our environment 30, 35 or 40 years down the road. The taxpayers of Jefferson Parish should know that the Homeland Security office and the JPSO are doing all that we can to help the cleanup effort succeed.


JPSO Honor Guard Is A Very Special Outfit

Each year, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard is invited to present the national and state colors at New Orleans Saints football games prior to the singing of the national anthem.

The presentation of the colors and the singing of the national anthem is a very important part of the pageantry that is associated with important special events, such as a New Orleans Saints home game.

For those of us associated with the Sheriff’s Office, it’s always a special moment when the JPSO Honor Guard marches across the Superdome field to present the colors. It’s special in part because of the precise perfection of the Honor Guard and it’s also special because we know the men and women who are presenting the colors. We know how diligently they rehearse their performances and how demanding they are of themselves, that their uniforms be perfect and that their movements must be precise and coordinated.

It is a tradition within our department that the members of the Honor Guard are volunteers who also have other responsibilities within the JPSO.

It’s very interesting to me that there has never been a shortage of volunteers to serve in the Honor Guard, even though it means extra hours of work. The men and women of the JPSO who choose to serve on the Honor Guard consider it a tremendous privilege to serve the Sheriff’s Office by carrying the flag of the United States, the State of Louisiana and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The saddest, but perhaps the most important, of the Honor Guard’s duties is to present the colors at the funerals of JPSO officers who have passed. For the bereaved families of these individuals, the appearance of the Honor Guard and the presentation of the colors is an important part of the ceremony that recognizes the special contributions of those who have served Jefferson Parish during their tenure in the JPSO.

The JPSO Honor Guard does a wonderful job of representing the 1,500 men and women of the Sheriff’s Office. We appreciate their hard work, their perfection in presenting the colors and their commitment.


We Are Really Serious
About Stopping Those
Who Drink and Drive

Our officers tell me they think there has been a reduction in the number of persons who drink and drive in Jefferson Parish. This opinion is based on the fact that our DWI Checkpoints on the East and West Banks are finding fewer drunken drivers.

I hope that is correct but I’m not convinced. I feel very strongly about this. All the evidence of my 31 years in law enforcement tell me there is a direct correlation between drinking and driving and the large volume of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths in unincorporated Jefferson Parish. I believe that the only thing that is going to force those who drink and drive to use a designated driver or call a taxicab is the near certainty that they are going to be pulled over and arrested for drinking and driving.

That is why we are now in the process of certifying all 300 members of the JPSO Patrol Division to give field sobriety tests, which is the criteria by which the Jefferson Parish DA’s Office decides who is going to be charged with DWI. The field sobriety test, given by certified, fully-trained police officers is also an important criterion for Jefferson Parish judges.

In addition, we are incorporating teaching the field sobriety test into our JPSO Training Academy curriculum and it will also be part of our in-service training program. As you can see, we are very serious about this.

As a life-long resident of South Louisiana, I understand as well as anyone that partying and enjoying alcoholic beverages is part of our culture. I have no problem with that. The problem begins the moment when someone who has been drinking gets behind the wheel of their vehicle and turns the key in the ignition. The more alcohol that a drunken driver has consumed, the more likely it is they will be involved in a traffic accident that will cause damage and may very well also cause injuries or even death.

In a matter of months, there will be more than 330 JPSO officers on the road qualified to give field sobriety tests. There will be more DWI Checkpoints on both the East and West Banks. My sincere hope is that a year from now, we will be able to see a reduction in the number of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths in unincorporated Jefferson Parish. We are working closely with the Jefferson Parish DA who is fully supportive of our efforts to crack down on drunken driving in Jefferson.

Please don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver or call a cab. Please drive defensively. The more alert and careful you are, the less likely it is that you’ll be involved in an accident.


Thanks to New Orleans Zephyrs
For Hosting Thousands of DARE Students
At The Old Ballpark

Attending a New Orleans Zephyrs game is always a treat. The stadium on Airline Drive is convenient and beautifully maintained. There are always a lot of contests and special events going on that compliment the baseball game. Add to that some 10,000 enthusiastic DARE students and you have a delightful spectacle.

DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), of course, is a special course taught at elementary and middle schools warning children of the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The course is taught throughout the metro area by police officers. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is especially proud of our DARE program that is taught by our officers at more than 150 Jefferson Parish public, parochial and private schools to more than 5,000 children.

The New Orleans Zephyrs help us out each year by designating one of their home games as a treat for DARE students from throughout the region. The kids love to go to the ballpark and the fact that a Zephyrs’ game is given them as a reward for good classroom performances helps us in our efforts to present the DARE material as interesting, informative and educational, rather than scary, frightening stuff.

I especially want to commend the Zephyrs’ organization for working with us and other law enforcement agencies. The Zephyrs for many years have been model corporate citizens in the metro area.

I am also very proud of our Community Relations Division which each year teaches the DARE program to more than 5,000 children in Jefferson schools. There are, in my opinion, two positive outcomes of the DARE program that benefit Jefferson Parish.

I am told constantly by Jefferson Parish adults that they still remember the information they learned during the DARE program and it has impacted their own personal behavior when it comes to drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

The second benefit is that the DARE program allows children from throughout the parish to see police officers up close. I think it is in DARE classes that many children first learn that police officers are their friends and should not be feared. Many JPSO officers have become role models, friends and confidantes of kids they first met in a DARE classroom. I hope that the Zephyrs continue their tradition of opening their stadium to the DARE kids once every season. It’s a lot of fun and it serves a very good purpose.


Be Warned – JPSO Is Cracking Down
On Those Who Drink and Drive

I have spent the last 29 years of my life in law enforcement. My own experience and every statistic that I can find tell me there is a strong correlation between drinking and driving and accidents.

If you get behind the wheel of your vehicle after drinking alcoholic beverages, your reflexes and response time will be affected by the alcohol. Your ability to react will be slowed, even if it is only by seconds. And, the likelihood that you will be involved in an accident will be significantly increased.

We have too many traffic accidents in unincorporated Jefferson Parish. There is far too much damage to property, injuries and death. From a public safety point of view, we have an urgent need to reduce the number of traffic accidents in Jefferson. The best way to reduce the number of traffic accidents is to reduce the numbers of drivers who drink. Every day in unincorporated Jefferson, there are traffic accidents that most likely would not have occurred if one of the drivers in the crash had not been drinking. Persons who cannot pass a field sobriety test are arrested, handcuffed, taken to the Jefferson Correctional Center and booked with DWI. It’s embarrassing, time-consuming, costly and may result in the suspension of your license to drive.

We are not opposed to partying, social drinking or folks having fun. We urge you to have a designated driver if you’re going to drink or call a taxi. I would also ask you to drive defensively. There are a lot of reckless drivers on the road in Jefferson Parish. Your best protection against them is to be aware of everything around you, drive defensively and never drink and drive.


Thank You,
VFW For Honoring Det. David Canas

I am very pleased to thank Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 3121, of Gretna for honoring JPSO Detective David Canas for his work in apprehending three armed robbers who have confessed to their crimes.

I am always pleased when organizations like the VFW and the American Legion make annual awards that recognize the bravery and the achievements of JPSO officers. For me, the significance is that these awards are symbolic of community approval of the quality of the work done by our officers.

Of course, Detective David Canas was eminently deserving of the VFW award. He demonstrated creative thinking in figuring out a possible escape route that might be chosen by suspects in several armed robberies. Then, he demonstrated courage by stopping their vehicle and ordering them out of the car. Detective Canas also demonstrated wisdom when he called for backup. And, I am very proud that the backup came at top speed, supporting their fellow officer who had put himself in harm’s way.

Once the three suspects had been arrested and read their rights, the investigating officers discovered that one of the suspects had two loaded guns at his fingertips. We’ll never know what might have happened because at that moment, Detective Canas’ backup arrived with weapons drawn. That is the kind of police response we take great pride in at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. We often speak of our five-minute response to all emergency calls. But we also stress the importance of a five minute-or-less response to calls from police officers needing backup. We’ll never know for sure, but the less-than-five-minutes response time to Detective Canas’ call for backup may have saved his life. From beginning to end, the entire incident was a graphic example of excellent police work on the part of Detective Canas and the members of the Patrol Division who came at top speed when they received his request for backup.

The three suspects arrested by Detective Canas have confessed to several armed robberies and are awaiting trial in the 24th Judicial District.

Thanks again to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 3121, of Gretna. All of us at the JPSO are honored by your recognition of Detective Canas. Like you, we hope that it will always be said that Jefferson Parish is one of the safest communities of its size in the United States and a good place to work, play and raise a family.


Formation of Computer Forensics Unit
A Reflection of the Direction of Police Work
In The 21st Century

The announcement of the first Computer Forensics Unit in the long history of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office should certainly not have come as a surprise to anyone.

Today, we see fifth graders who are expert with computer games, cell phones and IPods. Thousands of Jefferson Parish teenagers have Facebook pages and are at home on the Internet. Why would we think that criminals cannot do what our children can do?

In fact, we require the graduates of the JPSO Training Academy to be expert in the use of laptop computers that are now found in every patrol vehicle.

A police officer investigating child pornography, prostitution, embezzlement, extortion or many different kinds of theft would expect their investigation to take them on a search of computer records. They might also expect to review a log of cell phone calls. And, it would not be surprising if the police officer found that someone tried to erase or alter key information on a computer hard drive.

That is why we have brought together in our Criminal Investigations Division the first JPSO Computer Forensics Unit. And, it is not surprising that there is plenty of work for the Computer Forensics Unit to do.

We are very fortunate at the JPSO to have a number of officers who are fascinated by computers and the world of cyber communications. I’m very appreciative that Colonel Ken Meynard, Detective Stephen Villere, Detective Nick Vega and Sergeant Dax Russo have stepped forward to form the JPSO Computer Forensics Unit.

For our part, we will be sending these four officers to the best law enforcement schools in the nation on computer forensics. Over the next several years, I am confident that there will be increasing recognition that the JPSO has the best computer forensics team in the region and that the members of the unit are certified as experts when they testify in court.

Today, our veteran officers smile when they think of the first JPSO Crime Lab that was located in a corner of a former church. That was almost 40 years ago. In much the same way, 40 years from now, there will be amused smiles when someone starts telling stories about the first Computer Forensics Unit. Of course, it is serious business and an important part of law enforcement is the use of technology to stay one step ahead of criminals. Computer forensics is just another field where the JPSO needs its own experts. Our Computer Forensics Unit fills that important need.


Thank You, St. Catherine of Siena,
For A Wonderful Blue Mass
That Honored All Jefferson’s First Responders

The annual Blue Mass hosted by Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Church honoring Jefferson Parish’s first responders is, for me, one of the most meaningful and profound events of every year.

I know from my own personal experiences that there is an incredible bond between the community and the men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. But the annual Blue Mass at St. Catherine’s gives special meaning to that bond. Part of the special experience is the wonderful sermon by Father Kenneth Allen praising the devotion of our men and women, as well as the other first responders in Jefferson Parish. His prayer on our behalf was also very moving.

However, the very special moment of the day came when the entire congregation stood to give a standing ovation to all of the first responders. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office works closely with our colleagues at the Jefferson Parish Fire Department and Jefferson Parish Emergency Medical Services. We know that we are all fortunate to be part of the infrastructure of Jefferson Parish, a very good place to work if you’re a first responder.

I especially want to thank the St. Catherine Knights of Columbus 12686 who have taken the annual arrangements for the Blue Mass as a special project. They do an outstanding job and we are all grateful to them. I also appreciate the efforts of Captain Alex Norman, Commander of JPSO Community Relations, to make the Blue Mass a special occasion.

I know that I speak for everyone at the JPSO, the Jefferson Parish Fire Department and the Jefferson Parish Emergency Medical Services when I express our thanks to St. Catherine, the Knights of Columbus and the congregants who braved a rainy day to come out to let all the first responders know that we are appreciated. We look forward to the 2011 Blue Mass at St. Catherine of Siena. Thank you for your prayers and your applause. They mean a lot to us.


JPSO Training Academy
Has a Proud History
Of Achievement

At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, we believe that what you learn in the classroom pays off on the street.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the JPSO Training Academy, I think back to the Academy’s early days when the facilities were barely adequate and traditions were being built from scratch. But, even then, graduates of the Training Academy looked back on their experiences and what they learned as a badge of honor. I know that when I’m around veterans of the early days of the Training Academy, they speak with great respect of the teaching abilities of Lieutenant Cornelius Drumm, the first commander of the JPSO Training Academy.

Back then, Jefferson Parish was just making the transition from a rural parish to a suburban parish. It is to the credit of the late Sheriff Alwynn Cronvich that he saw the need for a JPSO Training Academy. It is insignificant that the first building he could find to convert to a Training Academy wasn’t much. In fact, the old original Training Academy has long since been demolished. But what was important in 1970 was that for the first time, the JPSO could begin training its recruits and establishing traditions of excellence in the classroom.

Today, the JPSO Training Academy is considered a state-of-the-art facility that we gladly allow other law enforcement agencies to use for their training programs. Give credit for this excellent facility to my mentor, the late Sheriff Harry Lee. Sheriff Lee had a special vision – he wanted one of the finest Training Academies and indoor firing ranges to be found anywhere in the nation and that is what he built.

We have graduated 61 recruit classes in 40 years from the Training Academy. Right now, we have one class hard at work and are recruiting for future classes. If you know someone who is seeking a career in law enforcement with a superior, proud and effective police department, please ask them to call the JPSO Personnel Department at 376-2333. We have a tradition of excellence that begins in the classroom and pays off on the street.


In The Fight Against Crime,
Technology Is The JPSO’s Crucial Edge

If you’ve heard one of the many speeches that I give to civic and neighborhood groups throughout Jefferson Parish, you already know that I’m a major believer and advocate for technology.

I believe that properly used technology is the crucial edge that law enforcement has in the fight against criminals. In a modern society, there is no way that we can afford to place a police officer on every corner. But we do have an edge over criminals. At the JPSO we have a five-minute response time to emergency calls. We have a state-of-the-art communications system. We will soon have a state-of-the-art Crime Lab. Every JPSO patrol car has a lap top computer. If our officers stop a vehicle, they can find out in less than a minute if that vehicle has been stolen or is wanted in connection with a crime.

And, now, each of our patrol cars will have a mobile fingerprint identification system. In less than a minute, this less-than-one-pound, 6X9 computer can tell a JPSO officer if the suspect he has just fingerprinted is wanted for a crime or has a past history of criminal activity. The mobile fingerprint id system is a force multiplier. A patrol officer can learn to use the mobile fingerprint id system is 15 minutes.

Criminals are going to hate the mobile fingerprint id system. They can give an officer a fake name. They can show the officer fake identification. But fingerprints don’t lie. Right now, we have access to Louisiana’s entire criminal justice data base. Soon, we’ll have access to the federal fingerprint system. If a suspect has never been arrested in Louisiana but was previously arrested in Oregon and is wanted in Missouri, the national data base will spell it out.

The fiscal realities of modern economies make it very unlikely that we’ll ever be able to afford more than 1,500 police officers at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. But, with the help of technology such as the mobile fingerprint id system, 1,500 highly trained, computer literate officers will be more than sufficient to assure that Jefferson will remain one of the safest communities of its size in the nation.


The JPSO Challenge:
Find The Best, Most Efficient
Least Costly Method of Doing Our Job

It’s certainly not a secret that these are tough times financially in Jefferson Parish. Sales tax revenues continue to fall and it isn’t clear when our economy will rebound, although I am certainly optimistic that a positive turnaround will occur.

In this environment, every government agency is struggling to get the most out of every dollar and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is certainly no exception.

I have written often in the past about our belief that technology is a “force multiplier” for law enforcement. At the JPSO, we are constantly trying to improve our technical capacities – whether through the construction of a new JPSO Crime Lab or placing laptop computers in every patrol vehicle.

At the Jefferson Correctional Center, the parish jail run by the JPSO, personnel costs are a constant concern. One way of reducing our costs has been to out-source some services to expert vendors. By placing a contract for food services with a company called CBM, we have eliminated the need for the JPSO to hire, administer, pay and provide benefits to a kitchen staff. Instead, CBM does the hiring and administration and provides the benefits to an outstanding group of cooks and supervisors.

In the same way, we have placed a contract for commissary services with the Keefe Group, who work with prisons and jails all around the country. Their personnel have set up a system by which inmates can order the snacks and personal products they want. The Keefe Group supervises the purchases, which are made through commissary software provided by Keefe. The Keefe Group has the supervisory responsibilities and we have found their personnel to be very good at their jobs.

I especially want to thank Deputy Chief Sue Ellen Penouilh, Warden of the Correctional Center; Captain Ed Olsen of her staff who is our liaison with CBM and Keefe; Carl Preyer of CBM and Peter Kastner of Keefe. Together, they are an efficient and cost-saving team.


The More Preparation Police Officers
Receive For Dealing With The Mentally Ill,
The More Likely There Is A Positive Outcome

The 300 officers of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division are now receiving specialized training in what is known as Crisis Intervention.

In most instances in police work, Crisis Intervention calls for officers to try to communicate with persons who may be mentally ill.

This can be exceptionally dangerous work. Police officers have been injured and killed in confrontations with persons who are mentally ill.

At the JPSO, our officers have been both skilled and fortunate in working with the mentally ill. The goal of our Crisis Intervention Training is to provide all the officers in the JPSO Patrol Division with the fundamentals of communications techniques that have proven effective in the past. Because each case is different, there are no guarantees that these communications techniques will be effective every time. But our experience indicates that officers who take their time and are non-threatening when communicating with the mentally ill are most likely to avoid a confrontation that could have dangerous consequences for the officers, the person they are trying to communicate with and by-standers.

We are fortunate at the JPSO to have among our officers several who have safely handled many commitments of the mentally ill and confrontations with persons who might be mentally ill. Because of government cutbacks in medical facilities and medical personnel specializing in the care of the mentally ill, these cases increasingly are being assigned to police officers. The reality is that every police officer needs to know and understand the most effective communications techniques because it is likely that the officer will at some point find themselves needing to communicate effectively with a person who may be mentally ill.


We Thank The American Legion
For Honoring Three Outstanding
JPSO Officers

American Legion Metairie Post 175 has a wonderful tradition since the late 1960s of annually honoring outstanding JPSO officers for heroic actions that protect the public.

This year, Post 175 has honored three outstanding young deputies who, by coincidence, each have about five years of service with the JPSO. They represent the new generation of JPSO officers who are rising through the ranks and will one day be our senior leaders.

The three officers selected by Post 175 are Deputy Jennifer James, 1st District; Deputy Ryan Rivette, 4th District, and Deputy Shane Rivolo, 4th District. Deputies Rivette and Rivolo are partners.

They were honored for their bravery and tenacity in the course of pursuits of assailants in two different cases. Deputy James ignored a broken nose to pursue a suspect who invaded a home, beat up a woman and then fled. She could have called for medical help to treat her injury but instead called for back-up and led the pursuit that corralled the suspect.

Deputies Rivette and Rivolo chased a suspect through six back yards, over fences, and saw him break into a home occupied by its owners in Airline Park. The elderly couple had the presence of mind to open a door for the officers who were on the heels of the suspect. The two officers cornered the suspect in the garage and arrested him.

Both suspects are awaiting trial on a laundry list of charges.

The commanders of these three honored officers, Major Mark Dupuis, Commander of the 1st District, and Major Vic Amstutz, Commander of the 4th District, say that Deputies James, Rivette and Rivolo are always hard-working, aware and committed to their profession.

I have often said that one of the great strengths of the JPSO is that our officers enjoy their work, their colleagues and the professional standards that we maintain. That is why we have so many officers who have 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of experience. But for the JPSO to maintain our tradition of excellence and safe streets, we need for a new generation of JPSO officers to make their way up through the ranks to one day provide the senior leadership that is always required. The work of Deputies James, Rivette and Rivolo tells us that the future is in good hands.

Thanks again to our friends at American Legion Metairie Post 175 for honoring outstanding JPSO officers. We understand that your appreciation extends beyond these three honored officers to all the men and women of the JPSO. Thank you very much. We look forward to next year’s awards.


Crimestoppers Is An Outstanding Organization
That Deserves The Full Support of Our Entire Community

I was very pleased when Crimestoppers chose to honor our JPSO Cops & Clergy program. Cops & Clergy has brought together our officers and more than 31 churches on the East and West Banks.

Crimestoppers was right to honor JPSO Deputy Chief Richard Rodrigue who has done a wonderful job of building this organization that emphasizes after-school programs for young people that include tutoring, homework, academic excellence and respect for others. The goal is to encourage young men and women to strive for high school graduation and then further education at universities and community colleges. But Cops & Clergy also works effectively at many other community-building efforts, including post-crisis family reconciliation, helping ex-cons re-enter society and helping children whose parents are in jail.

In the course of building this successful program, we have also gotten to know the pastors of the participating churches. I was very pleased when Crimestoppers also honored Bishop Jerry Henry, Sr. who has been one of the outstanding leaders building Cops & Clergy.

At the same time, I also want to put emphasis on my support and admiration for Crimestoppers. This is one of the best non-profit organizations in our metro area and is very deserving of your support.

In 2009, Crimestoppers raised the more than $150,000 to pay for anonymous tips that led to the arrests of more than 300 wanted persons and allowed area police departments to close more than 400 cases involving violent crimes. In addition, Crimestopper billboards that asked for anonymous tips that would lead to the capture of persons wanted for murder were so successful that 36 persons in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish sought in murder cases were arrested.

I am not alone in believing that Darlene Cusanza, Executive Director of Crimestoppers, her excellent board and volunteers are among our best civic assets in the metro area. They do a wonderful job every year and our communities are safer because of Crimestoppers.

I hope that you will consider giving financial support to Crimestoppers, which is a non-profit agency. Every dollar that you give to Crimestoppers goes directly into the fight against crime.

Meanwhile, we will continue to work to further expand the programs of Cops & Clergy. Congratulations to Deputy Chief Richard Rodrigue, Bishop Jerry Henry, Sr. and all those who are working together at Cops & Clergy to make our community a safer, better place to work and raise a family.


The JPSO Edge In The Fight Against Crime –
It’s Technology, As Reflected In
Our New Crime Lab

There are few things in this world that give me greater pleasure than watching the daily progress being made in the construction of the new Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab.

Only those who have been around since the first JPSO Crime Lab was set up in a corner of an old church can fully appreciate the long road we have travelled toward the opening of a four-story, 45,000-square foot state-of-the-art Crime Lab staffed by a very talented team.

I have often said that it is technology that provides law enforcement our greatest advantage in the fight against crime. Our ability to use fingerprints, DNA, blood splatter, clothing samples, the testing of guns and ammunition and other scientific variables is an incredible tool that allows the JPSO to make good arrests and provide the District Attorney with the evidence to convince juries of the defendant’s guilt.

Those of us who work at the JPSO will never walk through the doors of the new Crime Lab building without thinking of and thanking the taxpayers of Jefferson Parish for their continued support.

It is also important to note that this Crime Lab will be a regional facility providing services for other law enforcement agencies throughout our region.

We are very appreciative of the efforts of our architects, Sizeler Thompson Brown, and our contractor, Mapp Construction of Baton Rouge. I know that representatives of law enforcement agencies using our facilities will be as impressed as I am by the array of scientific equipment in the Crime Lab that assists our officers in the continuing fight against crime. The new Crime Lab building is, in the final analysis, one more very important tool in the battle to keep the streets of Jefferson Parish among the safest in the nation.


The Lessons of Hurricane Katrina Bring
A New Integrated Four-Parish
Communications System

Those of us who were at the center of the response effort during Hurricane Katrina will never forget the frustration caused by communications systems that could not communicate with other departments or parishes.

In Jefferson Parish, the JPSO radios could not communicate with the radios at the parish, the Fire Department or the Emergency Medical Services. We also could not communicate with Orleans Parish, St. Bernard Parish or Plaquemines Parish. Ultimately, it didn’t matter because all communications systems crashed and we ended up using messengers to convey instructions.

After the storm, we all vowed that this would never happen to us again. It is to the credit of the leaders of Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish, St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish that they agreed we would combine our resources to build a four-parish communications system that was hurricane-proof and would allow every parish and every parish department to communicate with their colleagues.

The resulting system cost $50 million and we have just given it a major test during Mardi Gras 2010. The system performed superbly. Of course, we did not have hurricane-force winds, toppled buildings, raging fires or looting to deal with. But, Mardi Gras in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard is a major test of any communications system and it functioned just as we hoped it would. There are now some 6,000 compatible radios in the possession of parish officials, police, firefighters and EMT’s in the four parishes and the entire system is fully integrated.

Among the observers at Mardi Gras were six communications experts from Homeland Security in Washington D.C. Although we have not received their official report yet, several of the Homeland Security officials advised us privately that we have one of the most advanced communications systems in the U.S. They also said that the NOPD and the JPSO do a superb job of crowd control. Still, we are far from satisfied, although we’re clearly on the right track. We want our communications system to be impervious to hurricanes, able to function in terrible weather and tough enough to keep working for several weeks in adverse conditions if necessary. So, it’s back to work for us, although we are very pleased by the communications progress we’ve made in the last five years.


Once Again, Jefferson Parish Mardi Gras
Is A Model of Family Fun, Safety

Jefferson Parish rightly takes great pride in the excellent qualities of its Mardi Gras celebration.

This year, despite colder-than-usual weather, Jefferson Parish’s Mardi Gras celebration once again lived up to its high standards of family orientation and public safety.

Prior to Mardi Gras day, the cold weather seemed to take a toll on the usual parade turnouts. But the crowds on Mardi Gras day, warmed by the beautiful weather, were as large as ever. Like most parade observers, I think the huge turnout on Mardi Gras day was driven in part by the wonderful feelings generated by the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl season. I saw a lot of Saints’ black and gold in the crowd while riding with the Krewe of Argus.

As is true every year, I am very proud of the outstanding efforts of the men and women of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office who do an excellent job of maintaining order during the Mardi Gras season while cracking down on the few individuals whose antics threaten to ruin the Mardi Gras fun for others. This year, there were a few arrests on Mardi Gras day but I don’t think that those who were arrested had much of a chance to ruin the day for the thousands of families who came out and celebrated Mardi Gras the right way without disturbing others.

As is true every year, the JPSO Patrol Division Reserves joined with our regulars to provide superb coverage of the crowds on Veterans Boulevard and Bonnabel Avenue. At the JPSO, we say that we could not do the job that is needed for public safety without the assistance of our outstanding Reserves. That statement was as true in 2010 as it has ever been.

I hope that you and your family participated in Mardi Gras and had a great, safe time. We are very proud in Jefferson Parish of offering the public the safest and most family-oriented Mardi Gras that can be found anywhere. I think that we succeeded again in 2010 and will soon begin our planning for Mardi Gras 2011 when we expect to once again live up to our high standards of fun and public safety.

If you or someone you know might be interested in joining the JPSO Reserve Patrol Division, please call our Personnel Office at 376-2333.


Please support
Crimestoppers annual luncheon

I hope you will join me in supporting the annual Crimestoppers luncheon at the New Orleans Hilton Hotel on March 16. The $50 tickets help fund the Crimestoppers rewards paid to people who provide anonymous tips that lead to the arrests of violent criminals in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

I believe Crimestoppers is one of the most important nonprofits in the metro area. Crimestoppers-generated tips lead to more than 300 arrests of violent criminals each year. Last year, Crimestoppers tips helped New Orleans police and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office solve 34 murders. In Jefferson, Crimestoppers tips also led to hundreds of arrests in narcotics cases, robberies and armed robberies. The people who call Crimestoppers with tips often are individuals who have many valid reasons for not wanting to talk to police. But they will talk to a Crimestoppers staff member, knowing their identity will be kept secret.

From the law enforcement view, it is a tradeoff. We get the information we need to take a violent criminal off the streets and the informant remains anonymous.

At the JPSO, we have provided office space for Crimestoppers. We have also assigned Lt. Bruce Harrison as our liaison officer to Crimestoppers. Harrison works closely with Crimestoppers Executive Director Darlene Cusanza and her staff.

In the past year, we have been reminded of the Crimestoppers’ effectiveness; 14 of 17 people wanted for murder in Jefferson Parish have been arrested because of tips generated by Crimestoppers’ billboards. That number is an incredible record for any organization. It is why we are such admirers and strong advocates for Crimestoppers.

Please join us in supporting them. I also admire Cusanza and the dedicated volunteers from the business community who serve on the Crimestoppers board and raise the $150,000 a year that is used as reward money to pay off informants. That is why the March 16 annual Crimestoppers luncheon is so important. Along with the annual Crimestoppers gala later in the year, the luncheon is a crucial means of raising the money it takes to make Crimestoppers effective.

Last year, the top reward given by Crimestoppers was $12,500 given to an informant who helped the New Orleans Police Department identify and arrest a person wanted for a murder in Algiers. If you would like to make a donation to Crimestoppers, you can send a check to Crimestoppers, P.O. Box 55249, Metairie, LA 70055.


In Theory, the Mentally Ill May Not Be A Police Problem,
In Reality, It Is The Police Who Are Called On
Whenever There Is A Problem With The Mentally Ill

If you are a regular reader of this column, you probably know that I do not believe that police departments should have the primary responsibility for the commitment and transportation of the mentally ill.

But it is very clear that it doesn’t matter what you or I might think about this matter. The fact is that Louisiana, and most other states, are responding to their fiscal crises by sharply cutting back state medical facilities and personnel dedicated to treating the problems of the mentally ill.

The practical effect of these cuts is that when a mentally ill person stops taking their medications or acts out in a way that threatens their family members or neighbors, the police are going to be called. The police will be expected to safely take into custody the mentally ill person and transport him or her either to a hospital facility or to jail.

At the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, we have taken several steps to deal with what is, in our opinion, going to become a crisis in many jurisdictions. We have established a unit at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center to deal with the problems of the mentally ill. We believe that almost half of the inmates at the JPCC have serious mental problems.

As a result, I have brought on board, Dr. James Arey, retired from the New Orleans Police Department. He has been assigned to the JPSO Training Academy.

Dr. Arey will help us develop a unit of JPSO officers who will be highly trained in responding without violence to the needs of the mentally ill. We are off to a good start because two of our officers, JPSO Lieutenant Gilbert Rieth, Jr., and Deputy Keith Reaves are veteran officers who have successfully handled many hundreds of commitments without incident.

One of the reasons that Lieutenant Rieth and Deputy Reaves are so good at what they do is simply because they have attended some of the best seminars and schools on the subject in the nation. We are going to identify other JPSO officers who share the interests and concerns of Lieutenant Rieth and Deputy Reaves so that we can develop a unit whose primary responsibility will be responding to calls involving the mentally ill; especially those who need to be committed.

In an ideal world, the needs of the mentally ill would be considered a medical problem and there would be plenty of medical facilities and personnel available to serve the mentally ill. But, in truth and fact, in the real world, it is clear that the needs of the mentally ill in Louisiana are going to be a police priority; therefore we are preparing to meet that need efficiently, effectively and as safely as possible.


We’ve Always Counted On Our Reserves,
Now They Play An Even Larger
Role In Jefferson Parish Law Enforcement

For more than 20 years, it has been true in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office that we couldn’t do the job that Jefferson Parish needs without the help of the JPSO reserves.

Now, the JPSO reserves are more important in the fight against crime than ever before.

We have realigned our Reserve Patrol Division into more than 100 task forces, each assigned to one of our four patrol districts. The reserve officers work five-hour shifts. They are most often found riding in patrol cars, coordinating with the regular officers of the district, working together hand-in-glove. The addition of the 82 officers in the Reserve Patrol Division to the regulars assigned to the four districts has meant a tremendous leap in visibility, law enforcement saturation of high-crime areas and response time

The best part of this is that the reserve officers have welcomed the challenge. While they are required to work a minimum of 34 hours a month, most reserve officers have chosen to exceed the minimum requirement by a significant number of hours.

In our new alignment, reserve officers have been outstanding, making major arrests, seizing drugs and guns. The effect of the new alignment is that this will make us a better police department and it will help Jefferson Parish to become an even safer parish.

As has been the case for the last 20 years, the Reserve Patrol Division will also play a key role in our coverage of Mardi Gras. We’re very proud of the fact that Jefferson Parish offers families a safe Mardi Gras and I am absolutely certain that will be the case again this year.