Taking on our violence

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @dvillechief

Police patrol in Donaldsonville is going to be “beefed up,” according to Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley. Sheriff Wiley announced at Donaldsonville City Council Meeting last Tuesday that his office is taking a firm stand against the violence in Donaldsonville.

Sheriff Wiley came to the Donaldsonville mayor and council to inform them he and his group recognized an increase in crimes against persons in Donaldsonville since March of this year. According to Sheriff Wiley, there have been 186 total crimes against persons, including: simple assaults, simple batteries, armed robberies and most recently the July 14 shooting in D’ville Village that left one dead. Of those 186 total crimes, 26 of them have been arrests of illegal weapons since that same time.

“We see the compelling need,” Sheriff Wiley said. “Frankly it’s been a rough spring and a rough summer for the City of Donaldsonville and for West Ascension.”

Since the July 14 homicide, Sheriff Wiley said the APSO spent 231 hours in overtime, estimating almost $8,000. The APSO also initiated or began introductory realm of defense addressing some of the street crime that they’ve been seeing and escalation of that a month ago. Sheriff Wiley said the APSO had another “go-team” created that is a “street sweep, street corner type of unit of five that was in overtime of about $6,000.”

Sheriff Wiley said he didn’t come to the meeting to ask for financial help, rather to only inform the mayor, council and public of Donaldsonville that “we are going to do more.”

He also said, the APSO didn’t wait until now to begin its initiative against Donaldsonville violence, it has been active since May. Colonel Tony Bacala, APSO Chief Deputy, said they had already seen this “creepage” of serious crime into the neighborhoods and had “already dedicated ourselves to it.”

“We didn’t wait for this homicide to start,” Colonel Bacala said. “In fact as soon as we started we started seeing those numbers come down, we can make a difference with vigorous enforcement because we did make a difference.”

In its investigation of the crimes, Sheriff Wiley said a lot of the violence “reeks of initiation.”

“Gangs, ladies and gentlemen, there’s clear indications by code of dress, tattoos and clearly by social media that this is become part of this community, territorial groups. I’m going to call them gangs,” Sheriff Wiley said.

Sheriff Wiley reminded those in attendance that all the people in the Baton Rouge news viewing audience saw a “shoot out, a one-man chasing a person down the street in broad day light” on March 28.

Colonel Bacala said the APSO is aware of some of the criminals’ use of social media and have even been able to target some of the videos and made some arrests from the footage by identifying persons in it.

“When a criminal used to be out in the street, they tried to hide their crime, they didn’t want anybody to know they did it,” Colonel Bacala said. “Now you have the people with the mentality they are going to celebrate their criminal behavior on a worldwide YouTube video. We’ve already targeted some of those videos.”

Mayor Leroy Sullivan and the council said they all appreciated the sheriff and his office for the work they’ve been doing for Donaldsonville, and what they plan to do to help halt the crime increase.

“We appreciate the increased protection you are planning and have already initiated for our community,” Mayor Sullivan said. “I also want to let you know that you have been better than good to the City of Donaldsonville. I appreciate that.”

The APSO urges the public to contact its office with any information at 225-621-INFO (4636) or by texting 847411, its anonymous tip line from any cellular device, or Crime Stoppers at 225-344-STOP (7867). To be eligible for a cash reward, you must contact Crime Stoppers immediately.