River Parishes officials plan community meetings on policing

Staff report
Several area leaders recently met for the “We Can Together” River Parish Round Table Discussion.
Photo provided

State Rep. Ken Brass of District 58 hosted a “We Can Together” River Parish Round Table Discussion meeting for all local officials, sheriffs, and chiefs of police.

As Brass’ district represents multiple parishes along the Mississippi River, he invited officials from Ascension, St. James, Iberville, St. John, and St. Charles parishes. Additionally, parish presidents, mayors, and state legislative members were in attendance.

Brass said the meeting was “a great first step” in allowing officials from the five-parish area to have important conversations about law enforcement policies and procedures.

Some of the issues discussed included developing trust between police and Black communities, community policing, diversity hiring, maintaining a police misconduct database, de-escalation policies, body and dashboard cameras, duty to intervene, training, recruitment, use of force policies, and alternatives to shooting.

The District 58 office plans to work with law enforcement to identify funding sources for body cameras and storage of video files. 

Brass’ office also will work with State Police to develop a Diversity Task Force comprised of Black males and females working as deputies and police in the River Parish region.

“The goal is to develop an outreach program for local high schools and universities across the state so we can increase the diversity in the local law enforcement agencies, and to increase the number of African American deputies that are policing in the Black communities throughout the River Parishes,” Brass said in a statement.

Also planned: Local town hall meetings to discuss law enforcement policies and issues. The meetings will be open to residents, officials, community leaders, and clergy.

Brass thanked Leslie Chambers, who serves as Assistant Executive Council and Criminal Justice Policy Advisor for the Governor’s Office, for serving as the facilitator of the round table discussion. He also thanked Alsie Dunbar for serving as emcee for the meeting. The owners of King of Wingz and Thingz in St. John Parish hosted and provided the meal.

Ascension Parish officials who participated included: Sheriff Bobby Webre, Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson, Parish President Clint Cointment, Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan, Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux, Sorrento Mayor Mike Lambert, State Sen. Ed Price, and State Rep. Tony Bacala. Representing Iberville Parish was Sheriff Brett Stassi.