As a member of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association (LSA), Sheriff Mark Hebert offers the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Scholarship Program to students in St. Mary Parish. The LSA scholarship aids worthy Louisiana students in furthering their education and training with resources made available through the Louisiana Sheriffs' Honorary Membership Program.
One scholarship in the amount of $500 will be awarded to a graduating high school student from St. Mary Parish. There are no restrictions on the purposes for which the scholarship is spent. The scholarship is not a loan and is awarded as a gift to defray the costs of tuition and related expenses for higher education. The only limitations are that applicants be permanent residents of Louisiana; that the scholarship be utilized in higher education within the state of Louisiana; and that the student be enrolled as a full-time, undergraduate student.
Applicants must be eligible for admission to the school indicated on the application. The award will only be paid for attendance at institutions of higher learning within the state. The scholarship winner will be announced by May 1, 2017. Completed applications must be submitted to the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office by April 1, 2017.
Applications may be obtained from either of the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Offices, on the 4th floor of the parish courthouse at 500 Main Street in Franklin or 1455 Railroad Avenue in Morgan City. Applications may also be printed online by going to www.lsa.org. Completed applications should be dropped off at the Sheriff’s Office or mailed to P.O. Box 571 Franklin, LA 70538. For more information regarding the Sheriff's Scholarship Program, contact Public Information Officer Traci Landry at 985-354-0714 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office
Public Information Office
The St. Mary Parish chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving recently honored law enforcement officers for their work in keeping the roads and highways of St. Mary Parish safe. Sgt Taurean Smith and Deputy Aprylle Bobbitt were presented with the TOP COP award for the Sheriff’s Office. Over the last year, Smith made 9 arrests on the charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Dty Bobbitt made 5 arrests. Overall, Sheriff’s Office deputies took a total of 46 suspected drunk drivers off the road. 41 were 1st offenses, 4 were arrested for 2nd offenses, and 1 was arrested for 3rd offense drunk driving. Through law enforcement efforts and the work of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, convicted offenders are shown the long term effects of impaired driving with the goal of changing their behavior and preventing future offenses. Sheriff Mark Hebert says, “These arrests represent lives saved. I commend Sgt Smith and Dty Bobbitt for their outstanding effort to keep our roadways safe.” The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office joined Louisiana State Police, Chitimacha Tribal Police Department, Morgan City, Patterson, Berwick, Franklin, and Baldwin Police Departments at the Berwick Civic Center for the ceremony held Monday evening, December 5, 2016.
Below from left to right are Parish President David Hannagriff, Captain Sennet Wiggins, Sergeant Taurean Smith, Deputy Aprylle Bobbitt, Detective Whytley Jones, and Chief Deputy Scott Anslum
Students at Centerville, Berwick, Glenco Charter, J.S. Aucoin, and Raintree elementary schools celebrated their D.A.R.E. graduations this past Fall and this Spring. The fifth graders successfully completed the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program in the course of a semester. The 10 week long D.A.R.E. program teaches students decision making skills that equip them to lead safe and healthy lives. Lessons include the dangers of drug abuse, how to resist and refuse peer pressure, and how to take a stand against bullying. The program is designed to boost students’ social skills and enhance self esteem which is a key factor in contending with these issues. As a graduation requirement, the 5th graders are asked to write an essay describing what they have learned from the D.A.R.E. program. The essays are often narratives of personal experiences of bullying or peer pressure and explain how the students will use or have used the D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model (DDMM) to overcome those challenges. Guest speakers at each of the graduations encouraged students to continue to use the skills they learned in D.A.R.E.
Guest Speaker Sheriff Mark Hebert, St. Mary Parish
Guest Speaker Deputy Walter Shepherd, St. Mary Parish
Guest Speaker Judge Kim Stansbury, City Court of Morgan City
Guest Speaker Lt Alexander Barnes, St. Mary Parish
Guest Speaker Jacki Ackel, Safe Schools Advocate & Berwick Councilmember
Guest Speaker District Judge Lewis Pitman
The St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office manages the program in 5 schools across the parish for approximately 500 students each school year. Funding for the DARE program is provided in part through grants and the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association Honorary Membership Program.
The 13th Annual VOICE for Victims Rally was held in Bouligny Plaza in New Iberia Monday.
The Voices of Innocent Citizens Empowered (VOICE) is a support and advocacy group for victims of violent crime. The evening event marked National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Sgt. Jose Alexander with the St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Office sings "You Raise Me Up"
New Iberia Mayor Hilda Curry reading the National Victims' Rights Week Proclamation
16th Judicial District Attorney Bo Duhe
Louisiana District Attorney Jeff Landry
Special guest speakers, Kevin and Dondie Breaux, parents of Mayci
Sheriff Mark Hebert
Sheriff Hebert also spoke at the rally, “We, as law enforcement officers, have the first opportunity to help victims cope with trauma and we know that what we do in those first moments can often define a victim’s recovery. We have a responsibility to help victims restore their sense of security and regain control over their lives. We are committed to carrying out that mission beyond the first call for service. We work closely with organizations like Chez Hope, the St. Mary Council on Aging, St. Mary Community Action Agency and St. Mary schools to help make sure crime victims receive the support and services they need. We also offer a multitude of resources to prevent others from becoming victims.”
For more information on the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Victims Services Program call 337-907-0408.
With the lighting of a candle, there was a moment of silence in memory and recognition of victims of drunk driving here in St. Mary Parish. The annual Light of Hope ceremony was held at the Lamp Post in Franklin last week. The ceremony, hosted by the St. Mary Parish Mothers Against Drunk Driving Chapter (MADD), serves to remember those affected by impaired driving as well as honor law enforcement for their efforts in taking drunk drivers off of the roadways.
Jacki Ackel with the local MADD chapter said she is happy to report a decrease in impaired driving arrests made by the 7 parish law enforcement agencies. In 2015, there were a total of 147 arrests made by parish agencies. Ackel says that number is down by 35 when compared to the same time period in 2014.
Members of parish and state law enforcement agencies were honored for their work in taking impaired drivers off the roadways. St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Mathew Moore received recognition for making 6 arrests for driving while intoxicated. Deputy Taurean Smith was recognized for making 5 impaired driving arrests over the year. Deputies with the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office made a total of 47 DWI arrests in 2013, 41 in 2014, and 31 DWI arrests in 2015 showing a continued decrease.
Sheriff Mark Hebert says, “I commend Sergeant Moore and Deputy Smith for their diligent work in taking drivers who are a danger to others and themselves off the roadways. Their efforts are a part of getting convicted impaired drivers the help they need and ensuring the safety of all those on the roads in St. Mary Parish.”
From left to right: Captain John Kahl, Jr., Captain Sennet Wiggins, Sergeant Mathew Moore, Deputy Taurean Smith, Major Gary Driskell, and Major Scott Anslum
According to guest speaker Judge Elect Lewis Pitman, much has changed over the last 3 decades when it comes prosecuting and sentencing those accused and convicted of impaired driving. Pittman says for DWI convictions in the 80’s, “the penalty wasn’t that severe, the fine wasn’t that terrible, and the loss of driving privileges didn’t happen.”
As a result of the push for safer roads by groups like MADD and law enforcement, the state legislature has enacted harsher penalties over the years.
District Judge Elect Lewis Pitman
Pitman added that the Louisiana Supreme Court recently decided to transition to a treatment program that will categorize and treat offenders based on risk. Pitman says the current program does not differentiate between first time low risk offenders and higher risk repeat offenders. The new program will begin to go into effect in 2016.
However, Pitman says those types of programs do not deter the first time offender. Like many, he calls the prevalent use of alcohol in St. Mary Parish a cultural phenomenon. “The cultural use of alcohol is ingrained.” He says, “The only thing that’s gonna change this is education,” and commended Mothers Against Drunk Driving for being the foremost points in that fight for education.
The ceremony was sponsored by the St. Mary Parish MADD Chapter, Red Ribbon Committee, and Lamp Post Event Center.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office
Public Information Officer
Over the course of my career, I have learned that a domestic violence complaint is not only one of the most dangerous calls for service, but may even be the most deadly for law enforcement officers. Many people are unaware of the dangers involved and why law enforcement officers take the actions they do while on this type of call.
For a moment, put yourselves in our shoes. We watch an incident unfold in real time, not in minutes, hours, or days after the fact. We do not have the luxury of assuming that the scene is stable based on the information we receive from a caller or 911 operators. More times than not, the information we initially get as we are responding to the scene is vastly different from the situation we are presented with upon arrival. Not everyone understands the fluidity. Emotions can swing 180 degrees, from calmness to a deadly force encounter in hundredths of a second. This makes domestic violence complaints volatile and complicated. With that in mind, you can understand the instantaneous need for the officer(s) to take control of the incident. Typically, this is done with verbal commands, separating the parties involved. This is not to isolate any one party, but to defuse the situation as quickly as possible. Depending on the initial observations, one or all of the subjects potentially involved may even be handcuffed. That decision is made by the responding officers for their safety and the safety of others. In other words, this may be the only way we have to ensure the person(s) will not attack one another, or the law enforcement officers. Remember; no two complaints are exactly the same, with the factors continuing to change moment by moment.
We give everyone the opportunity to have their say about what occurred and how it started. In some cases we know the history of a relationship, but more often we do not. Depending on what we find during an investigation, if no charges are filed, we may act in a counseling role. We may serve as moderators allowing for the argument to dissipate. More often than not, this is the case, and everybody does the right thing and moves on.
However, domestic violence calls often involve physical violence. This can be a male subject physically harming a female subject or vice versa. It can also involve siblings, other family members, and even associates who are directly involved. This is the dynamic event we arrive to and it’s total chaos. We have an immediate duty to restore order and prevent further escalation. With such a dynamic situation, emotions are running high. The common denominator for all persons involved is law enforcement. This is where many issues arise. The officers are taking action to prevent further escalation and other family members take exception turning their hostilities towards the officer(s). Trust me when I say we all have families and are fiercely loyal to them. We understand the thinking when somebody says that’s my brother, sister, dad, mom, aunt, uncle, grandmother, or grandfather. It is the whole thought of, “I can say or do something to my family but hell hath no fury if an outsider gets involved in family business.” We completely get it, really we do! But if the situation has gotten so out of control that emergency services are called, it’s not a normal disagreement. It means it has escalated beyond what the average person thinks a disagreement is. And so now we are involved and under the law must take action. Law enforcement is empowered to make an arrest(s) and it is obligated to do so under certain circumstances. This leaves the decision on whether or not to file charges out of the hands of the persons involved. This decision is not taken lightly, especially when children are involved and present. The agony children witness during these calls for service tugs at each and every fiber of our hearts.
After everything calms and is more stable, we inform victim(s) of additional assistance that is available to them. There are a vast amount of resources available to victims. But, we can’t make victims seek help; we can only provide them with the tools to do so. But remember, we can’t help, if we do not have the information. Typically domestic violence gets worse as time goes on. Once the behavior is to the point of making threats and physical violence, it does not subside over time. Statistically it gets worse without some form of intervention.
Lt. Michael C. Stewart
St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office