Ascension Parish captain provides update on task force to address crime

Michael Tortorich
Donaldsonville Chief
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida last year, Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office Westside Captain Darryl Smith smiles for a photo while directing traffic at the Frank Sotile Pavilion in Donaldsonville.

After violent crimes drew concern from citizens in Donaldsonville, city leaders joined with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office in implementing a task force.

APSO District 1 Captain Darryl Smith, who appeared on Mayor Leroy Sullivan's Sept. 8 Making Progress program on Facebook Live, said the task force has brought positive results since ramping up June 1.

In 2022 so far, 37 shooting incidents have been reported, according to the captain. Such reports do not necessarily mean a person was struck, but rather can simply be a report of shots were fired or vehicles or houses were hit by gunfire.

So far this year, seven people were reportedly injured in shootings. Four cases have been homicides, he said.

"One is too many. We are sad to report we had four to investigate. We have a 75 percent solvability rate with one that is yet to be solved. We still have detectives working tirelessly to bring that person to justice," Smith said.

Heading into the summer months, the Donaldsonville City Council linked with the Sheriff's Office to launch the task force, pitching in $50,000 to fund extra hours for deputies to work.

"Since then, crime has gone down. We have not had any homicides," the captain said.

During the period, deputies have made 62 adult arrests, 29 misdemeanor arrests, and six juvenile arrests. Deputies have also handed out citations for many traffic violations.

"We believe in the broken window effect. If you overlook the broken window, you tend to overlook other things such as crime, drugs, and violence. Sometimes the small things can rid the big things," Smith said.

In the process, he pointed to the recovery of stolen guns with obliterated serial numbers being taken off the streets.

Deputies have logged more than 1,500 hours and are still working through the task force.

Smith also pointed to the positive outreach side of the department, which includes:

  • The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program meets every third Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at the center.
  • Parenting classes are set for Oct. 4, Nov. 1, and Dec. 6 at 4:30 p.m., also at the center.

Aside from his career with APSO, Smith serves as pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Donaldsonville.

In closing his remarks, he offered a prayer for the positive trend to continue in the city.

Community concerns about violence

A group of concerned citizens previously organized discussions on violence throughout the year.

The Sunrise Community Group held a townhall meeting on violence at the Ascension Parish Courthouse in Donaldsonville Aug. 10.

The group also organized a Stop the Violence march and rally in the city Feb. 27