November 02, 2012
Reginald Brown promises to continue to carry out the many duties of his office and work with surrounding law enforcement agencies to combat crime if re-elected constable, while opponent Alester Jones pledges to bring better leadership to the office, making it more efficient and effective.
Republican Jones, 56, and Democrat Brown, 66, are vying for the Baton Rouge city constable seat in the Nov. 6 primary election.
Brown is trying for his third term as constable. The retired East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office major was first elected to the position in 2001 and was re-elected in 2006.
Jones ran for constable in 1988 as a Democrat, but was beaten by incumbent Russell Hicks, who spent 23 years in the position. If Jones were to win the upcoming race for constable, it would be his first elected seat.
The platform Jones is running on is similar to the one he touted more than two decades ago and focuses on streamlining the office and sticking to its mission.
Jones said he is qualified for the job because of his background in the military, law enforcement and the private sector.
The Baton Rouge native served in the U.S. Army and is a former East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy and Baton Rouge police officer. Jones also has worked in the mortgage, real estate and automobile industries.
“I am a leader,” Jones said. “I’ve done well over the years and I think I can do well with this office.”
If elected, Jones said, he would work with Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux to clear the parish’s backlog of hundreds of thousands of outstanding warrants.
To better manage the constable’s more than $2 million budget, Jones said he would sell garnisheed property that is piling up in warehouses and limit the amount of vehicles the office purchases.
Jones said the Constable’s Office isn’t carrying out the same functions as other law enforcement agencies in the parish but appears to be as well equipped as the Louisiana State Police or the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“I don’t need to look like the State Police or the Sheriff’s Office,” he said, adding that if he’s elected, parish residents “won’t have to worry about him competing with other agencies.”
As executive officer of City Court, Jones said, he would carry out the orders of the court “like very few people would, particularly Mr. Brown, who is “an excellent community guy,” but lacks leadership, energy and administrative skill.
“He’s handling the office like an employee, not a leader,” Jones said. “You can’t do that. You’ve got to have someone who has their own initiative and who is not afraid of making decisions.”
Brown defended the job he’s done as constable and said that during the past decade, his office has become a “main operation within the criminal justice system.”
Brown said all of his deputies are “full-fledged peace officers” who have graduated from the Capital Area Regional Training Academy, the same academy Sheriff’s Office deputies attend.
In addition to better training, Brown said, his deputies are equipped with the tools they need to carry out their jobs, including vehicles.
When Brown was first elected constable in 2001, he said, the office didn’t have a fleet of vehicles. The office now has 32, most of which have laptop computers.
To help City Court run more efficiently, Brown said he turned a deputy position into a job for a lab analyst, who tests evidence in cases involving material such as open containers and drug paraphernalia.
He said he also implemented a two-person Internal Affairs Office, which looks into internal and external complaints made against the Constable’s Office and helps screen all city personnel for criminal histories.
One of Brown’s main accomplishments as constable, he said, is its anti-drug DARE Program, which reaches out to elementary school students in an effort to steer them away from a life of drugs.
“My DARE officers take a great deal of pride in what they do,” Brown said. “I am extremely proud of them and of the program.”
Brown said he’s trying for a third term because he “has a lot more to give.”
“I’m dedicated to making people’s lives better,” he said.
By law, the Baton Rouge City Constable is the executive officer of the Baton Rouge City Court. In that role, the constable provides security for the court, executes the court’s civil and criminal orders, and operates the Baton Rouge City Jail.
The constable also is a law enforcement officer. Common duties include garnishment collections, evictions, seizures, transporting prisoners, execution of warrants and enforcement of state and local laws.
The constable has complete law enforcement jurisdiction within the city limits of Baton Rouge. The constable has extended jurisdiction in all of East Baton Rouge Parish in the enforcement of evictions.
The constable also participates in numerous law enforcement task force operations and community educational activities.