POSITION: Iberville Parish sheriff.
Brett Stassi, who is serving his first term as the sheriff, succeeds former sheriff Brent Allain, who did not seek a fourth term. Before capturing the sheriff’s seat in the Nov. 19 election, Stassi was an investigator with the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Stassi previously worked for the Sheriff’s Office as a road deputy before leaving for the District Attorney’s Office, where he served as office manager.
What are some of your top goals?
I want to enhance our communications and cooperation with our municipal police departments by sharing resources and information. I will also strengthen and expand our investigation division by bringing in new, energetic detectives to work with our knowledgeable veteran staff. I have already implemented a crime scene unit, which will keep current with the latest trends in forensics, like DNA testing and fingerprinting.
What are the challenges your department faces?
Prescription drug problems are a major challenge for our narcotics division. A person’s addiction fuels their need for the drug, and promotes burglaries and thefts, as well as other crimes, to support their habit. Another challenge is re-establishing a relationship with the community so our citizens will be comfortable passing along valuable information to the Sheriff’s Office. Identity theft and other Internet/computer-related crimes also challenge our department because technology is constantly changing.
Are there any outstanding needs in the department?
We are almost fully staffed, but I will be working to upgrade our crime scene equipment capabilities, to ramp up our technology, and to provide more surveillance cameras.
What is the department’s budget?
Twelve million dollars, which is the expected revenue from property taxes, federal grants, state revenue sharing, local government, fees for services, commissions on fines, bonds, sales and seizures for the fiscal year ending June 2013. We have 135 full-time employees and 15 part-time workers.
How can you afford to implement the department’s needs?
We had nine of the highest-paid department employees retire with Sheriff Allain. Some will not be replaced, and the positions that have been replaced have been at lower salaries. I have also initiated some cost-saving measures, and we are seeking grants for the equipment needed to assist with our crime scene operations.
If you weren’t in law enforcement, what career path might you have taken?
First of all, law enforcement has always been the dream job for me. A career in law enforcement is a calling, just as I’m sure any police officer will tell you. If I had to choose another career, I think I would have chosen a law degree. My 21 years in the District Attorney’s Office allowed me to see the importance of law enforcement investigations and case preparation to convict those charged.
Advocate staff writer Terry L. Jones