Every year the Louisiana Sheriffs Association holds a three- or four- day conference. Most years it is held in Destin, Fla., at the Hilton. Are taxpayer dollars used to fund this conference? Are attendees reimbursed their hotel fees by local or state governments? Why not hold this conference in Louisiana all the time?
Response from Lauren Labbé Meher, communications director, Louisiana Sheriffs Association:
"We take pride in hosting conferences that provide quality training on the most current topics pertinent to Louisiana's sheriffs, allowing attendees to see first-hand the latest innovations in technology and equipment, which they might not have the opportunity to see elsewhere. This provides Louisiana's sheriffs with an economical way to assess the most modern technologies and crime-fighting resources, and determine how they can best put them to use at the local level.
"During a four-year period, the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association conducts an average of at least 12 conferences. Our three per year schedule includes a Midwinter Conference, which typically is held in North Louisiana; our Wardens' and Jails Conference, which has been held the past four years in Lake Charles; and our Summer Conference. Nine of the 12 conferences in the four-year period are held in the state of Louisiana.
"Our Association also annually conducts at least seven meetings and training sessions in Baton Rouge at our headquarters with an average attendance of more than 50 sheriffs. Half of those generally spend at least one night in hotels in Baton Rouge.
"The increased attendance from additional exhibitors at our summer conferences (most recently a 27 percent increase in attendance when conference was held out-of-state) allows us to sustain our training programs in Louisiana, including a training seminar for our Civil and Tax sections of sheriffs' offices held in Baton Rouge each year.
"There are many Louisiana associations that conduct conferences out-of-state. We are proud to say that when we do, the additional funds (generated from exhibitors) enable us to sustain our training programs and deliver them to our sheriffs and deputies at no cost to the Louisiana taxpayers."