Community

Celebrate Central: Deputies Who Serve and Protect

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By Mia Freneaux

The Central Sheriff’s Substation, located on Gurney Road, has spent the last 32 years guarding the safety of the citizens in its jurisdiction.  It is continually manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  The front office is always open for walk-ins.  Under the command of Captain Don Strickland, 7 deputies work a shift, one handling calls, the other six patrolling the streets in their sectors.   Last year, deputies at Central Substation handled a staggering 23,413 calls, and this year is on pace to equal or exceed that.  However, only 8,016 of those calls were in the City of Central.  The substation does not merely cover the needs of the City of Central.  Its jurisdiction extends from Florida Boulevard in the south to the Amite River in the east to Plank Road in the west to the St Helena/East Feliciana parish lines in the north.  This is the largest geographical area covered by any substation in East Baton Rouge Parish – over 110 square miles from Glen Oaks to Central to Pride to Chaneyville to Baywood.  When more manpower is required, Central and the Scotlandville Substation support each other in each of their jurisdictions.    Citizens in this jurisdiction also benefit from the resources available to the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.  Our substation has access to the skills and equipment of the Detective Division, Warrant Division, Armed Robbery and Burglary Division, and the K-9 Division, to name a few.  For example, in the rash of recent burglaries in Central, our substation called in the assistance of the Armed Robbery and Burglary and Detective Divisions to help apprehend the perpetrators.  The K-9 Division helped locate the individual fleeing after the armed robbery at the Central Donut Shop.  A unique division is the SCAT  (Special Community Anti-Crime Team)– developed by Lt. Col. Ralph Williams to be a liaison between the Sheriff and the community and a method to help prevent crime. 

In addition to patrolling and answering call outs, our substation is continually involved in community support.  A deputy is assigned solely to visit every Central Community School every day school is in session, networking with principals and Superintendent Faulk and mentoring students.  The  D.A.R.E.  program  offered in elementary school to educate students in drug use prevention is supported by our substation.  Captain Strickland regularly attends Civic Association meetings, informing residents of crime prevention techniques and hearing their concerns.  He and his deputies help subdivisions set up Neighborhood Watch Programs, something Capt. Strickland calls “the most important piece of equipment we have to work with.”  They work with Mayor Watts, the City Council, and Police Chief Browning to supply the needs of the people of Central.  They work with the Constable’s Office, the ATF and other agencies in Warrant Round Ups, where they make a concentrated effort to located wanted persons, but also take the opportunity to walk and talk with residents.  The last Round Up involved up to 90 law enforcement personnel.  Last year, deputies from our substation worked with residents in Central Woods, with the result being a drop in the number of calls from this area.  Capt. Strickland was very appreciative of the efforts of the Central Area Pastor’s Association (CAPA) for their assistance in erecting a basketball goal in the park and supplying basketballs and other sports equipment.  He also attends the Mayor’s Monthly Prayer Breakfast, another networking opportunity.  As part of Sheriff Sid Gautreaux’s  goal for each substation to become a part of the community and interact with its residents, on August 21st the substation will be sponsoring Family Day in Central – where families can get together to eat, play games and have fun.  Everyone is invited.   It will be held at Zoar Baptist Church.  Capt. Strickland wanted to express thanks to Pastor Kevin Hand for his assistance in this event.  Last year the substation sponsored a similar event in Glen Oaks, which was a great success.

So what does it take to become a deputy sheriff?  First, one must be accepted into the highly acclaimed Capital Area Regional Training Academy – “CARTA.”  CARTA is recognized all over Louisiana for its top quality training – even individuals from other agencies are sent to get intense instruction in all aspects of law enforcement.  CARTA has high standards for physical fitness and mastery of subject matter, beyond even the state requirements, and requires the strictest self discipline from its cadets.  Cadets must pass written and practical exams in subjects as diverse as First Aid and CPR to Firearms Qualification (gaining a POST certificate – Peace Officer Standards Training) to Defense Tactics.  Cadets must pass regular fitness tests in running, sit ups, pushups, aerobics, circuit training and flexibility.  After 3 months at CARTA, newly graduated cadets then must become Road Qualified- 3 more months of riding with a training officer until they are evaluated.  If satisfactory, a rookie can then answer calls under the supervision of a lieutenant and a sergeant.  After satisfying all of these requirements, rookies are considered “Road Qualified” and can drive a uniform patrol car and answer calls. One can appreciate, however, that even with all of this training, deputies regularly must face dangerous situations as they respond to calls ranging from domestic disputes to armed robbery.  It is not due to the lack of danger that there have been so few officers injured in the parish, but  instead a testimony to the quality of our officers and  their training.  

The Sheriff’s Office is opening two new substations – one north of Central Substation on Jackson Road, and one north of Scotlandville substation on Hwy 964.  Both of these substations will be manned 24/7, and will provide more presence in these northernmost areas of the parish.  They will be assisting both the Central and Scotlandville substations. 

Capt. Strickland emphasized several times that crime prevention is a team effort.  Citizens who see anything suspicious and call it in to the sheriff are the greatest deterrent.  He said, “If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.”  Calling to report suspicious activity not only helps the substation, but helps your neighbor.  Calls of course can remain anonymous. 

Capt. Strickland shared that in all his years of service, the job is “never boring, never the same.”  Each situation is different in some aspect.  He acknowledges there is some degree of danger, but said that the citizens they protect expect them to do the job they volunteered for, trained for and are paid to do.  The mission statement of the EBRP Sheriff’s Office is “to provide quality professional public service to all inhabitants of East Baton Rouge Parish without prejudice and with courtesy, dignity and fairness to all.”  Capt. Strickland said he and his deputies were “going to do the best we can in every way possible to ensure that the people of Central and East Baton Rouge Parish are served to the best of our ability.”  Central is fortunate to have such dedicated individuals watching over us.

2 Comments

  1. Tim Lazaroe

    June 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

    EBRSO also has an exceptional Reserve Program – for those who want to REALLY get involved in the community.

    The Sheriff’s Office is currently accepting applications for the next Reserve Academy – which is slated to start in September. For additional info and to download an application, copy/paste the following link:

    http://www.ebrso.org/Divisions/Reserves/tabid/70/Default.aspx

  2. Mike Mannino

    June 24, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Tim,
    Can anyone get into this or do you need law enforcement background ?

    Policemen, firemen, and teachers, are the most underpaid, under appreciated people in the workforce. We owe a lot to them.

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