APSO buckles down hard in D’ville

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @dvillechief

When the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Department declared “Operation Safe Streets” in Donaldsonville a few weeks ago, it meant business. APSO Chief Deputy Tony Bacala announced at last Tuesday’s council meeting that the department made 132 arrests in Donaldsonville in a two-week period starting July 29.

Bacala said the department has done what it “pledged to do for the city.”

“We have doubled, tripled and on some days quadrupled the number of deputies that are patrolling the streets of Donaldsonville,” Bacala said. “We’ve had them proactively policing, searching down this criminal element that we’ve identified and I think we’ve been fairly successful. As a matter of fact, I think we’ve been very successful in our efforts.”

Since July 29, the special operations resulted in 132 arrests, seven misdemeanor summons, and 136 traffic tickets in just over a two week period. As a result of the operation, the APSO again went back and looked at crime in Donaldsonville and it “declined sharply.”

Bacala reported that crimes against persons compared to the three-month average prior the beginning of the operation are down 76 percent, property crimes are down 44 percent, and overall crime in Donaldsonville is down 64 percent for the first half of this month.

“We really feel like we’ve gone in these small geographical areas and I think we made a difference,” Bacala said. “I think we have made a significant difference in these operations and we’ll continue to do it. We don’t feel like we’ve achieved our goal, so you’ll continue to see the kind of efforts that we have at least for the next couple of weeks.”

“It’s not just about putting people in jail, it’s about the quality of life in Donaldsonville and that’s what our goal is; to make the quality of life in Donaldsonville better.”

“Operation Safe Streets” isn’t an easy task to do, it takes man power, man hours and of course many dollars. According to Bacala, the total number of additional man hours that have been put in at Donaldsonville in the two-week period is 1,128, and an additional 581 overtime hours that cost the department about $18,800 thus far in overtime payment.

Chief of Criminal Operations, Bobby Webre reported a breakdown of the arrests made in the two-week period. He said the department made 15 narcotic arrests, 51 bench warrant arrests, and had five curfew violations.

“I thought we’d have more but I don’t know if its because school started at about the same time and people are home where they are supposed to be,” Webre said.

He said there were five open container arrests, four for loud music and 52 arrests on other charges.

“We thought that was very very successful,” Webre said.

Webre said the narcotics operation was using the APSO narcotics team and also using agents from other parishes to come and do some undercover type operations, and that’s where most of the 15 arrests came from the undercovers.

“Really the last time we did something this significant was probably in 2008,” Webre said. “We put forth a lot of effort then, the community put forth a lot of effort, we had nonviolence parades and things got better.”

Donaldsonville City Councilman, Rev. Charles Brown, said he can tell the young people see what’s going on in the APSO’s efforts.

“I’m talking about the young people who are not involved in criminal activity and even if they were thinking about it they have already detoured from it,” Brown said, “so what we’re doing now is really setting the stage for the future.”

He said when you start making the arrests and letting people know we’re not tolerating the crime, you’re reaching a young generation now “that’ll have a major impact.”

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan added, “We do appreciate the efforts, it’s definitely a big difference and it’s noticeable and people appreciate it.”