Sheriff says crime is down in Ascension

Wade McIntyre
From left at the recent Rotary Club of Gonzales meeting where Sheriff Jeff Wiley was guest speaker are Wiley, Rotarian Randy Gautreau, Capt. Ward Webb with the Sheriff's Office, and Club President Fritz Englade Jr.

Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said his office is beating its competition - the Ascension criminal element - based on the latest round of FBI statistics.

Addressing members of the Rotary Club of Gonzales last week, Wiley said the Ascension Sheriff’s office is below last year’s stats on “most every item and all violent crimes.”

The FBI data is based on crime in areas of with populations of around 100,000, which Ascension Parish falls into.

“We had just one homicide last year,” Wiley said. “We’re 20 percent down on robberies in general and down on home invasion.”

Wiley said his annual office budget is made up of primarily from about $12 million in  property tax collections, and $7.2  million from a 1/2 cent sales tax in the rural areas of the parish.

The rest of the budget is generated by fines and fees another collections.

The Sheriff recapped some of the services his offices provides, such as offering school crossing guards to schools when needed, and providing law enforcement for the City of Donaldsonville.

“We were the first sheriff’s office in the state to provide law enforcement for municipality,” he said.

The arrangement with Donaldsonville is based on a contract that is renegotiated periodically.

The contract came about during a period when Donaldsonville was strapped for funds and having difficulty policing the city with its own officers.

Wiley told Rotarians the parish 911 system is also unique in makeup. The system allows a caller to talk with the same call taker throughout the call.

One of the best things Wiley believes he has done in office was make the move to assign a  one of his narcotics officers to perform drug enforcement duties with the Baton Rouge office of the DEA.

The sharing program has proven valuable in the field, and also allows the sheriff’s office to receive a portion of the assets received from annual drug busts in the area.

Last year the amount received by his office was $200,000, Wiley said.

Wiley also touted the sheriff’s office arrangement with Fire District 1 which allows both entities to use the former All-Star Ford facility on Airline Highway.

Wiley’s office uses the location primarily as a fleet facility, while the fire department uses it for a training center.