Arnaudville Police Department
The Chief's Blog
The Chief's Blog
The Tide Will Turn
The Tide Will Turn
November 17, 2021
As we enter the holiday season – the season of “giving”, I reflect on the last year as your Chief. It has been a challenging year, both professionally and personally, but because I am a man of faith, I have to believe that my Maker is ultimately in control.
As a Police Chief managing a small rural department, my biggest challenge has been recruiting and retaining quality personnel. Arnaudville suffers the same fate and the same struggles as almost every other law enforcement agency in the country. We must recognize those elements that are impacting our efforts, and fight against some of the negative attitudes and perceptions we get from some of our citizens, from municipal officials, and from within our own ranks. We must acknowledge that there exists leadership that does not have the best interest of our citizens in mind; leadership that often turns its back on the brave and committed men and women who carry the badge and wear the uniform. There are invisible forces behind the scenes who would change the fundamental direction and values we have fought for for generations.
My over two decades serving in law enforcement has obviously been met with moments of challenge – Hurricane Katrina, big city crime, facing the tragedy and sorrow of fallen officers, meeting families of victims, and more – all to be anticipated as a police officer. What I never anticipated was a national movement that vilifies, disregards, dismisses and destroys the lives and livelihoods of decent, honest and hard-working law enforcement officers. A top-to-bottom movement that ultimately results in more crime, more disorder, and more chaos in communities and trauma to innocent citizens. As in every such movement, we always see a course correction, and I am optimistic that we will see the tide turn.
As I reflect on a personal level, I count the many family and friends who have been touched by a global pandemic that left us nowhere to hide and no immunity from devastating loss. My own brother succumbed to Covid-19, as did many of his fellow nursing home residents. Otherwise healthy family members, young and old did not escape the clutches of Covid. Attempting to understand the rationale for restrictions, mandates, and closures left more confusion, division and distrust. Covid took lives, but also took much more from us – our compassion, tolerance, empathy and trust. We are left as cynical, suspicious and mistrustful citizens choosing sides, and isolating and ostracizing those who dare to contradict or question.
But, as we move through all of this, we are left with our faith. Faith that tells us that while we are all on borrowed time, the best is still ahead of us. Life is constantly renewing, evolving and transforming into something better. We only need to wait, because the course will be corrected. The pendulum will swing the other way.
For those who can never see beyond their own selfishness or greed, or who fail to believe life is about giving and not taking, I have pity for them. The misery and hurt they inflict on others will come back to rest on their own souls. For the majority of us, the holiday season - the season of “giving” is but a time when our challenges, our pain and our struggles are overshadowed by the good we can do for others.
Happy Holidays, Arnaudville!
|Posted on April 5, 2014 at 8:05 AM||comments (138)|
Well, today will determine where I am tomorrow. This journey has given me more friends, more memories, and more love for my community. I have had the honor and the pleasure of reconnecting with my past, and my parents' past. In that respect, I have felt that they were with me. I know that they would be proud of me, my approach to this endeavor, and my vision that would bring honor and pride to the town of Arnaudville and its citizens.
At times, the odds seemed against me, but I persevered. Opening each visit with who I am, who my family is, and where I come from was key in establishing trust. Once established, I shared my love for Arnaudville, my vision for its future, and my goals as I took a front seat role in its new beginnings.
As a law enforcement professional, there are many issues I will face, but the most important will be providing Arnaudville with the best protection possible. It may be a cliché', but to protect and serve will be our mission, and every move and every decision will have its foundation in that mission.
Our police will also face a new day tomorrow, maybe with a new leader. While many have ridiculed them, I have concluded that the morale of the department as a whole has suffered over the past few years due to the bad press and the fractured loyalties. Without solid, professional leadership, we can see what happens -- a large turnover, lack of trust in each other, apathy towards the job, and no direction. I pity anyone working in such an environment. I would go into the job knowing that this has to be fixed if we are to provide Arnaudville the kind of protection they want and deserve. The police department is broken. It needs to heal, and this will take time, but it will be worth the wait.
And if I don't have enough votes at the end of the day, I will not shrink back. I will shake it off, and let God lead me to my next "thing". I will continue to find ways that will make a positive impact on Arnaudville.
If you are one who reads my blog, or who has been following my story, or who has been part of it in any way, thank you. I'm sure our paths will cross again.
|Posted on April 3, 2014 at 11:22 AM||comments (194)|
As we approach Election Day, I have to now put it in the hands of the voters and God. I was reminded today that if it is meant to be, God will allow it to happen. So, today’s blog is not about elections, campaigns or politics.
Today I have turned over my blog to Ginger, as we honor and recognize this month as Autism Awareness Month. In New Orleans, she was the Executive Director of a program for the deaf and children with communicative disorders. Her connection to children with Autism, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) runs deep. Our daughter, Emily teaches a self-contained special education class with several autistic children.
Today, 1 out of 68 children will be born with ASD. These numbers are astounding. In a decade this number has gone from 1 in 250, to just five years ago 1 in 150.
While we can address the educational options, behavioral strategies, and teaching methods for children with ASD, we should also be acutely aware that if these numbers are correct, there is an ever-growing number of young adults and adults entering all aspects of our society with ASD – the workforce, the communities, businesses, etc.
Since Ed’s blog has always integrated law enforcement into its discussion, I thought it appropriate to do the same. I will refer to an Autism Tsunami facing today’s police forces, and just as there is a need for police to be aware of and know about specific ADA laws (Americans With Disabilities Act) and the rights of this specific “class” of citizenry, they need special training when it comes to ASD.
There is a massive increase of young adults with autism; a statistical wave created by what appears to be a perfect storm scenario of concurrent contributing factors, including increased diagnoses, increased incidence of autism, over-taxed and drying up community resources and a maturing front-line demographic of individuals with autism The average age of these autism-boomers at somewhere between 17 and 19 years of age.
Consider this: the Center for Disease Control estimates 1 in 68 births currently are on the autism spectrum and possibly still rising. 3 out of 4 are male. Half are nonverbal or profoundly verbally limited. They are seven times more likely to encounter the police and at least three times more likely to be victims of violent and/or sexual crimes. 4 out of 5 police calls will involve unusual or dangerous, not criminal, behaviors that will often be difficult to manage or interpret. Two out of 5 will be prone to seizures, and a good deal of them will be hypotonic (low-muscle-tone), making them prone to positional asphyxia and musculoskeletal injuries. To top it all off, many of them will appear to be oblivious to pain, while others will shrink, as if in pain (perhaps real pain), to your slightest touch.
Police officers have been trained to use a certain police presence and dialog as intervention options. Body posture, tone of voice, eye contact, and interrogative language serves them well with most contacts. All of these are a form of nonverbal communication. It’s what they rely on initially to get their message across and control a contact. When dealing with subjects with ASD, traditional officer presence may not work. In fact, it may even backfire.
A recent report was issued written by Joel Lashley, who is the father of a son with autism and has more than 20 years experience managing challenging behaviors in the clinical setting. The report was a collaboration with Lashley (Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin), Emily Levine (Executive Director of the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin), Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr. (Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office), Mike Thiel, CPP (Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Director of Security), Edward A. Flynn (Chief of Police Milwaukee Police Department), Dr. George Thompson (President of the Verbal Judo Institute), and scores of national professionals.
Citing information in this report, “Children, youth, and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are as varied in their interests, personalities, character, temperaments, and communication styles as anyone else. It is therefore generally not a good idea to stereotype people with ASD. In reality, no two persons behave exactly alike, but what we know about people with ASD is that they tend to display unusual repetitive behaviors and have difficulty with socialization and communication.”
People with autism and other cognitive or developmental disabilities are less likely to commit a crime than others, but they are more likely than ever before to:
• Live independently without support
• Be out in public alone, without family or care providers
• Work, attend school, use public transportation, and even drive
• Have their access to public places and other freedoms challenged
• Have a medical emergency
• Be harassed and otherwise bullied
• Be a victim of sexual assault and other serious crimes
• Attract the attention of the police
According to the report, people with ASD often won’t understand what others want or need from them — worse, they may not understand that their words or actions can negatively impact others (or themselves). Difficulty with natural social concepts and values is usually what gets them into trouble with others, including the police, the report states.
I would like to conclude by pointing out that more and more police forces are seeking training, and there are several very reliable trainers and resources for them. Here are a few suggestions that are included in some of the training that is available.
Once you've encountered a subject who you think might have a cognitive impairment, here are a few principles to help you out.
The good news is, cops are very good at sizing up these situations. Give them the tools and they’ll know what to do with them! If the pros can provide police, corrections, and healthcare security officers with the necessary tools to recognize and communicate with subjects likely to have ASD, then the situation will have a fighting chance to resolve peacefully.
|Posted on March 31, 2014 at 7:40 PM||comments (192)|
Had a wonderful weekend, ending in a BBQ with family and friends. I have continued to visit and talk with the town people and had meetings with supporters. The encouragement has helped me sleep. For a couple of nights, this was a problem.
As I contemplate the possibility of a win, I have sketched out in my mind what priorities I will focus on. I believe in my gut that we have some good officers -- good officers can become better with continuous training. With any Chief, training should be routine. But, the training without proper equipment can only go so far. So, with my ability to research and write grants, partner and collaborate with area agencies, I am confident that workable, reliable equipment will be forth coming if I am elected.
I read about a 22 year old police officer in North Carolina was shot in the face on Friday night, and died. He was making a stop to question someone who was acting suspiciously. He had only 7 months on the job. Could this tragedy have been avoided? I don't know, but I know one thing -- young, inexperienced police officers are the most likely to be killed or injured in the line of duty. They are often vulnerable because of the combination of immaturity, inexperience, the bravado they possess from being young and "bad-ass" that sometimes makes them feel invincible.
Physical training and fitness is no good if you don't have the ability or capacity of sound judgement and strategic thinking -- mostly born out of years of experience and maturity.
|Posted on March 29, 2014 at 12:56 AM||comments (114)|
Today I had some time to do some visiting, but mostly had appointments to go to for my brother, Randy. I decided not to order any more signs, so will rely on the impact of my personal meetings with the citizens. I figure that by now, most folks who will be voting know who they will support. If it's me, I am like a bull waiting for the gates to open. Week one will be setting the stage and beginning the transition from a broken department to a standard bearer for small town police departments.
Last night, Ginger and I attended the Opelousas St. Landry Chamber of Commerce banquet. I was so impressed with the event, and one of our own, The Little Big Cup received the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. Kevin Robin and Sanjay Maharaj have really shown what can happen when you believe in a dream and work hard. Their dream has a residual effect on the town of Arnaudville. The Little Big Cup gives us all pride; its location has revitalized the area; the quality of its food and service has attracted hundreds from around the region, state, and country. These two entrepreneurs show us all what we must do to bring Arnaudville up to a higher level. It is simple: we need to first, want improvements, and then do our part to make it happen.
When it comes to your safety and protection, and that of your family's, of your property and of your business, it is critical that you choose the person with the most qualifications and experience to serve. Being a Police Chief is not one of those OTJ (on-the-job training) options. Lives are on the line. At the end of the day, it's about protection, not popularity; it's about safety, not who you went to high school with; it's about never putting your office, department or town in positions of potential litigation, not flying by the seat of your pants, and hoping for the best.
|Posted on March 26, 2014 at 11:48 PM||comments (100)|
I call it the Territorial Waters Plan, and it extends our interaction and response beyond our city limits. St. Landry Parish is a big area. St. Martin Parish stretches out to Arnaudville, with not much in between. Technically, the Arnaudville Police Department is charged with patrolling and responding to incidents that occur within the city limits of Arnaudville. And this seems to be the current operating procedure.
The Territorial Waters Plan would/could extend the response area -- not the "patrol" area -- to cover calls within the 70512 zip code, but is contingent on the establishment of a strong working and relationship with St. Martin and St. Landry Parishes. We would make a commitment to respond, secure the scene and stabilize the situation, upon the availability of our officers while waiting for St. Martin or St. Landry officers to arrive at the scene. As a rural community, it is imperative that we take advantage of the resources and assistance Arnaudville can receive from having strong relationships and partnering with neighboring law enforcement agencies. We do have the capacity to assist them, and in turn, they certainly have the capacity to assist us.
The Territorial Waters Plan broadens our reach, but the return for doing so eliminates the "territorial" attitude and the isolation model we have been working under for the last several years.
By the way, I am so proud of Ginger for going to Baton Rouge today to champion three bills that will improve our state's domestic violence laws and extend more rights to victims. She, along with other women and United Way colleagues took the capitol by storm, and there was standing room only in the House Committee on Criminal Justice.
|Posted on March 26, 2014 at 1:50 AM||comments (380)|
I have begun my second round, knocking on doors that were closed the first time around, and still having great feedback, input, and support. Having never run for an elected position before, all is new, and all is unpredictable. We went into this venture on our own, no financial supporters, and with no big pool of volunteers. Running on a shoestring, tapping into the marketing and design talents of Ginger, the vision and message from me, and some physical assistance of my son, we use our own talents and skills, and combine that with prayer and guidance from God. Whatever the end result, I have no regrets and no obligations to anyone. There is something to be said of going it alone. No one speaks for me, and no one controls the agenda. I can sleep at night.
The neighborhoods I have been in lately have an overwhelming concern about drugs. They see deals going down, and they are tired of what they perceive is a total lack of response. If I am elected, this will become a priority and I will do what is necessary to decrease and rid Arnaudville of this growing problem. Studies have been done regarding the drug and alcohol epidemic within rural America. Small towns are seeing a rise in drug and alcohol abuse, with younger and younger children participating. Where there is an education gap, illiteracy, high unemployment, and poverty, substance abuse is a problem.
If you are one who thrives on reading studies, here's a site for you: CLICK HERE
With neighborhood watches, we can work together, and I hope we have that opportunity after April 5.
|Posted on March 24, 2014 at 1:17 AM||comments (105)|
Got some catching up to do. Friday night, the family went to Little Big Cup, then to NuNu's for some socializing and entertainment, then met with a friend before finally getting home, who reminded me that signs don't vote.
Everywhere I go, I'm getting great encouragement and support. Some of that is first hand, some second hand. I try not to get overly confident, but if I want to begin implementing some of my 10-point plan on day one, I have to start preparing. Point #1 is well underway. #6 and #8 have really caught on with the citizens -- both require some coordination and planning, so I have to act as if I'm going to win, even though I know the outcome could be different.
Saturday, James and I put up another banner. We then went to the nursing home to see my brother. While there, I spoke with other supporters. Some votes are promised from some of the residents there who knew my parents; other votes are promised from their family members.
Today, as a member of the KC's, I worked with fellow members on the bar-b-que and cake sale. Ginger baked a cake, she and James helped pack the lunches. Emily, Jeremy and the twins came to church with us and we just soaked it all in! Love having family around! This afternoon, the 3rd banner was placed.
I am two streets shy of having canvassed the entire town limits. I will go back around to catch the ones who were not home. I was encouraged as I spoke with citizens; the overwhelming sentiment is that they want someone with experience and leadership skills; a real all-round professional. When I decided to run, my instinct was just that. I based my whole campaign on what I believed the town wanted, and certainly what the town needs and deserves. I know in my core that I can deliver.
I'm looking for volunteers for election day. If anyone is interested, please get in contact with me - email me at [email protected]; or [email protected]
|Posted on March 19, 2014 at 11:35 PM||comments (4)|
|Posted on March 19, 2014 at 1:20 AM||comments (0)|
A beautiful, clear day. Perfect for taking a driving test! My 16-year old son passed with a perfect score. A milestone in his life, and now to get a part-time job!
It was a great day for meeting Arnaudville citizens. I am truly impressed with so many thoughtful people and how astute they seem to be about what they want to see in a Chief of Police. I have to conclude from the comments, questions, and suggestions that they are yearning for leadership and experience, fairness and consistency. Of course, I hear stories, rumors, and just plain venting from some frustrated folks. Police are not superhuman or perfect. Mistakes will be made, but if there is solid leadership and good principles applied, generally, the public will support its department. The Chief must be someone who does not collapse under pressure, does not shy away from controversy, and will apply the law with consistency. An effective leader will pull from each employee their best; will set high standards; and will welcome suggestions and input. It's about building a team; its about loyalty to the department; it's about respect for the citizenry.
Asked if I am elected, would I clean house - fire everyone? This is a no brainer for me. Absolutely NOT. I have managed hundreds of people, and have never fired one person. This is not to say, that some have chosen not to do the job, or not to meet the standards. When that choice is made, we part company. But, I would go in with no preconceived notions about anyone. Each employee would have a fair chance to approach their jobs in professional manners and determine whether they would want to be part of a cohesive team. My forte' is management and leadership. Team building is job one, and if Arnaudville is ready for my kind of leadership, then I'm ready to role up my sleeves.
|Posted on March 18, 2014 at 8:01 AM||comments (189)|
Luck of the Irish, to you! Today, I continued my walks, not anticipating much because of the cold weather. Global warming? Forget about it! But, many folks took pity on me, as I stood at their door, with icicles hanging from my nose -- result: they asked me to come in out of the cold to warm up. Such hospitable folks we have living here in this great community! If any of you read my blog, I thank you for your generosity!
I need to back up here, and make reference to the 7-Mile Yard Sale on Saturday. Ginger had a booth that she shared with son, James and daughter, Emily. She was selling for United Way, but Em was selling baby clothes, and James (the salesman in the family) was selling random stuff he pulled out of his room, closet, under the bed, etc. We had boxes of stuff we pulled from the attic, of which some of it he claimed for his inventory. 8-track tapes! Old VHS's -- and he made a killing, convincing shoppers that they needed what he had to sell.
Since yard sells are not my cup of tea, I opted to stroll my grandbabies around in the nice weather. Some might call this activity "campaigning". So be it. The babies did draw attention, I must admit. The "cute" factor never hurts! Ginger said I should have taken James along (all 6'3" of him) to attract the "sympathy" vote. One look at him, and folks would conclude that feeding and clothing him does require a lot of resources!
Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day, weather-wise.