Ascension Parish sheriff vows crackdown on Donaldsonville crime

POSTED: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 11:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 5:03pm

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley had tough talk Tuesday for those engaging in crime.

According to our news partners at TheCreole.com, the sheriff announced increased patrols and enforcement for the entire westbank area. This comes as the Sheriff’s Office has noted an increase in violent crimes over the last few months.

Wiley referenced the recent shooting death of Brisecon Jasmin, a 19-year-old who the sheriff said had “never been in trouble in his life.” Jasmin reportedly was an innocent bystander at the Dville Village apartment complex when he was hit by gunfire.

In a passionate speech, Wiley vowed that his staff would be proactive in tackling the unsettling criminal trend. “I’m here to tell you that we’re going to do more,” the sheriff said. “Bottom line is this has to stop. We’re going to do our part.”

Wiley said the style of dress, tattoos, and social media chatter suggests some of the crime may be gang related.

Though it may sound inflammatory, he said, “I’m going to call it gangs.” Based on activity posted publicly in social networks, some groups “can’t get along” with others in neighboring communities, like Gonzales, St. James, and White Castle, Wiley noted. 

The sheriff went onto say that his department has “full pockets,” and will ramp up illegal drug enforcement by shutting down the “street corner drug dealers.”

His patrol division administrators, Dean Werner and Ward Webb, have been working on increasing patrols. The usual five officers per shift will be increased, Wiley said. The idea is to allow officers to be more proactive in enforcing laws against loitering, open containers, excessive noise, and juveniles out after curfew.

Wiley added that his department will keep up the warrant round-ups deputies have been conducting. Through a program called SNAP, for Street Narcotics Apprehension Program, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to take criminals “off street corners,” he said.

Wiley also emphasized the importance of community cooperation, citing the infiltration of witness intimidation becoming a factor in crime fighting. In some cases, witnesses are fearful of retaliation if they assist law enforcement.
“We can’t let it come into this parish,” the sheriff said. He cited an instance where a television news crew was following up on the recent shooting. An individual apparently yelled out to another about not talking to the media about the incident. “Our best way of doing this is to get the community aware,” Wiley said.

While it’s “still a good community to live in,” he noted that the criminal activity is being undertaken by “pockets” of residents.

The council also heard from Chief Deputy Tony Bacala, who said the increased presence and activity works.
“We’ve seen this creep up,” Bacala said.

Deputies have been working overtime over the last two to three weeks, according to the chief deputy. “We’ve seen a drop in crime because we’re not tolerating it,” Bacala added.

They also reminded the community that reporting tips to the Ascensnio Parish Sheriff’s Office can be anonymous. The public can contact deputies through phone calls, email or text. The information is available at www.ascensionsheriff.com.┬áMobile phone users can text to 847411. Type in APSO, text the tip, and send. There is also a tip application available, and anonymous website form to submit information. “We make arrests that way,” Bacala said.

The sheriff’s personnel was asked about the activity on social media. Bacala answered by saying criminals used to do their best to hide their crimes, but not anymore.“They’re going to celebrate their crime on a worldwide YouTube video,” Bacala said. He added that people have been put in jail over such videos.

Wiley went on to say that the juvenile curfew will be a priority. Juveniles will be brought to City Hall for their parents or guardians to pick them up. “If we’re waiting much more than an hour, we’ll arrest the parents,” Wiley said. He also emphasized again the enforcement of loitering and other “street corner” crimes. The sheriff added that car burglaries even happen at churches. “I don’t want to single out Donaldsonville,” he said. “It happens everywhere.”

In reference to loitering at businesses, Wiley said that owners should call the Sheriff’s Office if the problem persists. “We will go over there and give them an opportunity to leave,” he said. “The second opportunity is to leave with us.”

The Sheriff’s Office has noted the increase in crimes against persons since March. Wiley said 186 such crimes have been reported. 

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