From red ribbons and footballs to hot dogs and ID disks, the LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office offers much more to citizens than only physical security and protection, but a host of other contributions involving educational programs, free services and multiple ways they give back to the community as a whole. Over three editions, these contributions will be highlighted to overall inform the public.
One of the largest services overall that the LPSO offers involves education, which includes the well-known D.A.R.E. program, but is not limited to programs within the school system.
LaSalle Parish fifth grade and seventh grade students each experience their age group’s version of the D.A.R.E. curriculum called keepin’ it REAL taught for the past six years by LaSalle Parish D.A.R.E. Instructor and Sheriff’s Deputy Jenny Parker.
The curriculum, based on the D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model, teaches communication and life skills through the effective “from kid through kid to kids” narrative approach that are the hallmarks of D.A.R.E.’s successful keepin’ it REAL curriculum.
After participating in the curriculum, students will be able to exercise self-control, identify the risks and consequences of their choices, make safe and responsible decisions, communicate more confidently and effectively and become safe and responsible citizens by learning how to help others and know how to get help.
According to the D.A.R.E. America website, the D.A.R.E. officer remains the key to delivering the curriculum. Officers are vital in making the lessons come to life while playing an incredibly positive role for D.A.R.E. students. Parker said when she was patrolling the streets, she saw firsthand how some kids are scared or have a negative attitude of police officers.
“D.A.R.E. enables me as an officer to develop a positive relationship with the students, which will last a lifetime, Parker said. “When I start visiting students in Pre-K, I am showing the students that officers are there to help and can be their friend, someone they can turn to when they need help. I am so proud and excited to be a part of the keepin’ it REAL D.A.R.E. program.”
Since 1983, D.A.R.E. has demonstrated leadership in the prevention of drug abuse. Collaborative efforts among Law Enforcement, Education and Prevention Science have distinguished this program. D.A.R.E. America’s innovation keepin’ it REAL Elementary Curriculum continues this commitment to provide cutting edge instruction that prevents drug use by developing basic or core skills needed for safe and responsible choices.
Another program within the school system is the annual Youth Crime Awareness Program (YCAP), which involves a visit by all parish eighth grade students to the LaSalle Correctional Center (LCC) in Urania. YCAP is sponsored by the LPSO in conjunction with LCC.
During the tour, the students visit a holding cell, a dormitory and the center’s multi-purpose room and hear advice and personal testimonies from inmates on what they hope will change the lives of the students.
“The program began six years ago to open the eyes of eighth graders to the potential consequences of negative choices in life,” LaSalle Parish Sheriff Scott Franklin said. “The goal of YCAP is to make these consequences a reality to the students. We wanted a way to bring awareness to teenager’s lives that the choices they make could land them in that very place. The choices that land you in prison are not worth losing your freedom and dreams over and affecting your loved ones. We hope after YCAP these kids will make wise choices in life and not have to endure such a devastating outcome which is prison.”
The LCC inmates, who share at YCAP, also want to get across this same message that the student’s decisions determine their destiny and how so many of them do not realize that things they consider to be harmless such as sneaking out, lying, hanging with friends their parents don’t approve of, drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco could all lead them down a path of destructive decisions.
During his talk, one inmate had the students recite, “Prison is not for me! This is the last time I will ever set foot in this place.” He shared how each inmate becomes a number in prison and that their name is no longer needed because they have lost their freedom – freedom they took for granted. He also reminded students that “you have no excuses for the choices you made” and that “This is not the future designed for you. If you choose to fail, you will fail. You can choose to succeed.”
Senior Safety Events
Outside of the school system, the LPSO also holds their annual Senior Safety Events in Jena and Olla. The program for parish citizens over the age of 60 includes a meal as well as a number of safety presentations by area agencies, health screenings and information regarding Medicare fraud, hospice, scam alerts and much more.
“The main focus of the event is to keep our senior citizens educated on the latest scams and also to make them aware of all the services that we as the LPSO provide and other area agencies as well,” Sheriff Scott Franklin said. “They should come to the event to keep up with the latest trends of scams and hear about the services that are available to them at this stage of their lives and that are beneficial to their health and safety.”
This year, the Jena program is set for Thursday, September 13 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Family Life Center of First Baptist Church in Jena. The Olla program is set for Thursday, September 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Olla. Some of the agencies represented will be the Cenla Area Agency on Aging, CMAP, Legal Services, the LaSalle Council on Aging, Guardian Hospice Care, Rapides Regional Medical Center, Homeland Security and more.
Other Ways They Educate
The LPSO provides all the red ribbons to LaSalle Parish schools for Red Ribbon Week, which is a nationally-recognized week set aside from October 23-31 each year to raise drug awareness among youth. The Red Ribbon Campaign was founded by the National Family Partnership (NFP), formerly the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth, and is the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation reaching millions of young people.
According to their official website, the program began in 1985 in response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena when angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America. In 1988, NFP sponsored the first National Red Ribbon Celebration, and, today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.
One such activity provided by the LPSO is through their K9 division who offer demonstrations at several parish schools during the Red Ribbon Week to not only show the intense training of the K9 officers and their canines but also to be a part of bringing drug awareness to area youth and hopefully save lives, according to Daryl Husbands, LPSO Chief Deputy of Operations.
“We’ve been doing these demos for the past decade and I believe they are important because the youth need to see how the dogs work and indicate on the drugs,” Husbands said. “It is good for the kids to know as well as the public that the dogs are well utilized and very good at what they do. It’s about drug awareness and about stopping the flow of drugs into our community to save our children and their children. That’s what it’s all about. We’re trying to save lives.”
The LPSO’s K9 unit has multiple teams and is an additional and important tool used by the office’s deputies to assist in certain situations or circumstances involving patrol, narcotic detection and also missing persons.
Chief Deputy of Operations Daryl Husbands, who leads the K9 Division, and is a National Judge and Instructor, has been working with LPSO’s newest K9, Titan a three-year-old Malinois. Deputy Denny Pittman is another team with five-year-old Drako, a half Malinois and half Shepherd mix, and the unit also has Manny, a four-year-old Bloodhound, who will eventually replace Judy, an older bloodhound set to retire in the near future.
A new educational event that was held by the LPSO this year was the Church Safety Presentation, which focused on steps to create a safe environment at churches and during church services and events and what services are available from the LPSO.
“We held the event for awareness. I’ve gotten a lot of questions from pastors and churches about what they should do in the event of an emergency at a church,” Chief Deputy Jimmy Arbogast said. “So instead of speaking to each of them individually we decided to bring together area church leaders and give them a basic education of what to do and the services we can provide.”
The LPSO also assists the Boy Scouts of America each year by assisting with badge requirements at the BSA Winter Camp at Camp Attakapas in Trout.
“Something people may not know that we do is work with the Boy Scouts at their Winter Camp,” Deputy Parker said. “We do an educational class for them to earn two badges – crime prevention and fingerprinting. We’ve been doing this for years.”
This story will be continued in the next two editions with more information regarding what the LPSO offers to citizens. For more information, call the LPSO at 992-2151.