I rarely speak out publicly against our council. In fact, this may be the first time, but just
as I am expected to present and defend my annual budget, I now feel compelled
to defend my hiring recommendations. I
believe citizens should know how their elected officials conduct our business,
how and why votes are cast. The Mayor,
the council, and the Police Chief will not always agree, but each should
explain the rationale for decisions and votes. Because COVID-19 has greatly influenced
how we communicate with the public, much that goes on at council meetings is unknown.
the past several weeks, we have all sought ways to express our sadness and
outrage over the tragic death of George Floyd. This put a glaring spotlight on
the presence of bad police officers among our ranks, making the “good” cops
more determined to extract them from our departments. We can also see this as a moment where we can
acknowledge all types of prejudice and bigotry – systemic and/or individual. Many
in our community have experienced or felt bigotry and injustice, whether it is
against the LGBTQ community, a race, a religion, a disability, or a gender.
As I have been out in the community visiting with citizens
and sharing my positions, I have also enjoyed listening to them share their’s. On several occasions, the misinformation,
possibly the misunderstandings that they reveal is puzzling. I have been told that a mayoral candidate is stating
or implying that once in office, the Arnaudville Police Department would be an
item to consider for major cuts or disbanding altogether. I would like to assume that any such pledge
is being misunderstood or even completely inaccurate.
For those who are of the notion that the police chief
should conform to their idea of a job description, or to history and tradition, I remind them that
the position of Police Chief is an elected and administrative one, not to
confuse it with a rank and file patrol officer.
The position does not even require anyone with police experience at all, although most citizens would agree it is preferable! That’s why Arnaudville has had a history of chiefs and officers who were good men, but who were both
literally and functionally illiterate.
When I was elected, I presumed that I would walk into a department fully functional. Not so. There appeared to be no current standard operating procedures and no working relationships with either St. Landry or St. Martin Parish Sheriff Departments. The town-issued phone I was given was wiped clean, as well as the office computer. The so-called evidence room was not secure and records were incomplete or missing. Case files were missing, misplaced or grossly insufficient.
For the past 4 years, I have focused on two major areas.
- Protecting and serving
the citizens of Arnaudville with the most professionally trained and effective
officers we can attract.
- Protecting and supporting my officers and employees by equipping them with safe,
durable, and police-grade equipment and vehicles.
As any CEO or manager will do when coming into a new job or
company, I evaluated the town’s needs against the department’s resources and
discovered a clear correlation between the resources and the capability of our
I was honored last night to be among some of our community’s
most patriotic heroes. The Arnaudville VFW dinner pays tribute to service men and women, veterans, first responders and law
enforcement. The highlight of the night
was watching Captain Clay Higgins, St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Public Information Officer, and Crime Stoppers spokesman, receive the Law Enforcement Person of the Year Award. His celebrity, something he never sought, is
overshadowed when you meet him, by his big heart and spirit, his passion and
love of the job, and his authenticity and genuine desire to serve two
principles: his belief in the
constitution, and his belief in the power of redemption
for the criminal, who he sees as an equal in the eyes of God.
When a law enforcement officer receives praise from a
citizen, it is not only flattering, but it serves to bolster confidence,
validate their career choice, and create a desire to even do better. One of Arnaudville’s citizens, Mr. Carl Lagrange’s
comments on social media did all of the above.
I proudly and humbly include it in my blog.
Mr. Lagrange writes:
“I can't say enough
good about this man, our chief Eddy J. LeCompte. And, frankly,
I could care less if some disagree.
As I have taken office, I have learned much about our
municipality’s form of government, which is governed by the Lawrason Act.
The Lawrason Act
was adopted in 1898 to
provide uniform guidelines to towns and villages for governing. Almost 250 towns and municipalities follow
the Lawrason Act
, Arnaudville being among them.
On several occasions, we ask our mayor and alderman to
enact, or provide for many things, some of which require referring to the Lawrason Act.
Crime prevention means being aware of your environment and remaining alert to situations that could make you vulnerable to crime. We cannot list specific measures that will protect you from every threatening situation, which may arise. Instead, we hope to teach you how to think "Crime Prevention" in day-to-day living. The suggestions presented should not be thought of as a list of crime prevention measures, but as examples of common sense behavior that will help you to make life safer and more secure.
I attended the Louisiana Municipal Association Conference in
Baton Rouge last week, and found the experience enlightening. I had earlier attended the Louisiana
Association of Chiefs of Police. As with any profession, one can find a
professional organization made up of peers, experts, novices, and retirees, and
attending those conferences and gatherings will enhance your knowledge. Admitting that I don’t know everything about
what I do, nor have experience in every conceivable scenario, I feel it is my
duty and obligation to take every opportunity to glean from others, gain from
their experience, and yes, be open to new concepts, new methods and ideas.
I'm coming up two months in this position. There have been several "surprises", but nothing that can't be handled or resolved. But, on the other hand, I think others have been surprised at the progress we are seeing so soon.
Procedures and protocols have been established that will result in better record keeping, and better service to the community. Senior Services will provide extra monitoring for our senior citizens living alone or with medical conditions. Neighborhood assessments are conducted by our officers while on patrol to note any irregularities such as signs down, trash or debris, pot holes, malfunctioning street or traffic lights, etc.
There is a concern among our Arnaudville citizens about
drugs – use as well as distribution. It’s an issue that embeds itself into our
communities as drugs filter into our schools, playgrounds, neighborhoods, and
even in people’s backyards. The dealers
and users blatantly, and unashamedly, transact their business on side streets, parking lots, and bridges.
Arnaudville, and other small towns have become havens for
drug users and dealers, partly due to the lack of resources, the lack of
experienced law enforcement professionals, and sometimes weak, and ineffective
leadership that turns a blind eye to the growing and often complex problem.
With National Police Week coming to an end, I realized
that most people didn’t know about this week set aside to pay honor to all law
enforcement who have fallen in the line of duty, and all who remain ever vigil,
protecting and serving their communities.
Our Arnaudville Police Department is part of this group of individuals
who chose to serve – not for the money -- but for the opportunity. I respect anyone who puts on the uniform and
goes out to literally put their life on the line for strangers.
Starting with the basics, I will methodically evaluate how
each employee adheres to expectations and requirements. Some of my goals include making internal
processes more efficient and more effective, reducing turnover and improving
morale. It will also include making our
police department known in the community for its professionalism on the
streets, as well as a welcoming and helpful “front desk”.
Now, I know that there will be criticism from the forces
that sow the seeds of doubt and cynicism.