DONALDSONVILLE — Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley told City Council members Tuesday that his office will ramp up law enforcement efforts in the city and surrounding area in response to a recent increase in violent crimes.
Flanked by his top administrators, Wiley made an impassioned speech, stressing that increased measures will be taken to address the surge in local criminal activity.
“We’re in this together,” Wiley said. “I’m here to tell you that we’re going to do more. Bottom line is that this has to stop.”
Wiley said that while Donaldsonville is still “a good community to live in,” increased criminal activity is occurring in “lawless pockets of the community.”
Since March, Wiley said, there have been 186 reported local crimes against people, with 231 man hours spent investigating the crimes. This includes $14,000 in overtime pay between two units, he said.
These crimes include a July 14 shooting in the Dville Village apartment complex where a White Castle man was killed and numerous suspects were arrested, including juveniles.
Crime-fighting measures Wiley said his office will take include increases in narcotics enforcement and patrol units, warrant roundups and requests for expedition of prosecution and incarceration.
Deputies also will more strictly enforce the city’s juvenile curfew of 11 p.m., the sheriff said.
“If there is an underage kid on the street after curfew, we’ll pick them up and bring them to city hall for their parents to pick them up,” he said. “If we’re waiting much more than an hour, we’ll arrest the parents.”
Chief Criminal Deputy Tony Bacala said that law enforcement is also monitoring social media for evidence of local criminal activity.
“In the old days, criminals used to hide their crimes,” he said. “Now, they celebrate them online.”
Councilman Charles Brown Sr. called Wiley’s report “enlightening,” adding that the council “is behind you 110 percent.”
Both Wiley and Bacala said cooperation from the community is key to helping quell criminal activity.
“Much like you, we work best with the community behind us,” Bacala told the council.
The sheriff said that his office has also seen an increase in witness intimidation in local cases, a trend that he is trying to combat.
Bacala urged the public to leave anonymous tips through phone calls, email or text. Information on how to do so is available at www.ascension