Residents voice safety concerns in Thibodaux

Photo provided by staff.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 1:41am

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 9:07am

People packed Thibodaux City Hall Tuesday all to talk about stopping crime.

Some people living in and around the housing developments around the city say Thibodaux Police need to do more to help protect parts of the city.

Concerned citizens from those areas asked city leaders and police to help increase police presence in their community.

They said community policing stopped several years ago they haven’t felt quite as comfortable. People living in those areas say they miss the close relationships they built with the officers that regularly were in their neighborhoods. They want to know the officers that help protect them better.

“Get in touch with us. Let us know who they are, and if there is a problem in our neighborhood, before it escalates, get it at the beginning,” Lois Watkins, concerned citizen, said. “We don't want saying this one is that. This one is that. It’s all about the presence of the officers in our neighborhoods not just Midland not just Government Circle but all over.”

Police Chief Scott Silverii defended his officers’ work. He says he's used a data based approach to figure out where officers are needed most to help cut down on crime.

“We’re going to use the data we are going to work smarter than hard. We are going to be efficient and effective in the work that we do. We are going to pursue the criminals and reduce social harms. That is what we've always done that is what we are going to continue to do.”

The chief said after hearing the crowds concerns tonight, he is going to make sure his officers build personal relationships with community members.

“I have always maintained 2 full time housing authority liaisons if they don't know them personally that's an administrative situation that’s a conversation to have with these officers,” He stated. “It’s a refocus a retool reenergizing of their efforts or reassignment.”

"It’s reassuring that those officers that are assigned as housing officers that they do more community projects, be it the tent talks, night out against crime, more victim advocacy, whatever it takes to bridge the gap between hard numbers and human concerns,” He said.

“I would hope now for the first time in this administration people have actually rallied to come together to voice their opinions,” Constance Johnson, Thibodaux City Council member, said.

She said before Tuesday’s meeting no one in the police department would listen to residents concerns about the safety in these areas.

“I believe now because the people are seriously. They are saying look we need some help although it may not be exactly what they want,” Johnson said. “I do believe after this particular meeting they may get a little bit more now than what they’ve gotten from city.”

Johnson was critical of the chief. She explained she has  concerns about allegations against the chief, that she wants the mayor to investigate.

“I don’t believe the chief is really worthy of this,” The councilwoman said.

Chief Silverii said everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion:

“I really do trust that the consistent voice of opposition will see that we are sincere; that will see that the data that we give that we offer is accurate. There is integrity associated with the data so that community conversation I believe changed.”

“What I got out of this meeting is that the people of Thibodaux really care about what’s going on. We have an opinion about the state of our city and there is particular way we want to keep it. We want to keep it a small town safe,” Maya Kennedy, who lives in Government Circle, said.

She was the first up at the meeting to address the council. She told officials she had concerns about her family’s safety living in that area and asked for increased police presence.

After the meeting she said: “When Chief Silverii got up and spoke I did feel some reassurance that he is aware of the problem. He is fixing it and it's not just being glossed over.”

Audience members addressed the need to work together to protect the people of the city.

“It’s not a political issue to us this is real life,” Kennedy said.

Also happening in Thibodaux Tuesday, a police officer filed suit against the city’s civil service board. A copy of the suit is attached.

Cooks, Calvin Petition for Judicial Review03172014.pdf723.24 KB

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