Oct 28, 2013|
Angela talks with Sheriff Jack Strain about crime in St. Tammany Parish.
We're discussing the hot topics of the day with co-host of First Take, Todd Menesses.
Angela discusses the shooting in Lafayette and says farewell to WWL as she hands her timeslot off to Scoot.
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Angela talks with WWL-TV investigative reporter Katie Moore and Tulane law professor Tania Tetlow about the city's backlog of uninvestigated rape cases.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
-- no longer just beautiful trees and acres of forces and pounds the North Shore has exploded in population in the last twenty years. It became the place to find more affordable homes a better public education system and quieter lifestyle. And all those things still exist but with gross growth has come crime. Crime that sheriff Jack strain has spent the last seventeen years finding. Here today to give us an update on the issues he faces in saint Tammany parish we really appreciate you being here and the first question him after seventeen years -- the -- Are you still having fun. I AM I tell people all the time that I know that I'm still haven't -- when I wake up in the morning and I look forward to going to work. I wish days would end as well as they start sometimes they did they don't always do that. But I still wake up in the morning energetic ready to get to the office and face the challenges of the day. I'm as you pointed out in your opening statement the -- changed a great deal. Actually twice we have a big population explosion in -- late seventies early eighties then again another explosion and post-Katrina. Showed the sheriff's office and all of our sister enforcement agencies over their -- at two. Be proactive and innovative and and do things that made sure that we were prepared. Win this week we grew in population. I lived in Folsom for five years beautiful beautiful beautiful. And but I remember if there was a murder it was headlines for a month -- major. And and then all of a sudden. Life crept in to -- almost dreamlike existence right and one has to adjust as as you have. Well you know and its interest in growing up there as well you know when I was in high school for example you you talked about the murders and I think that's the timing you know the stone and all sure. -- the fact that it matters and in this year is we average between seventeen and twenty homicides a year every year. But I'm and back then did the media. Saturation wasn't present so we really didn't hear that much about it. And you look at the the current murder stats. Far parish for example this year we've had zero homicides to date zero. When you look at -- in all of saint Tammany and me on incorporated areas we've had two and and so on. And municipalities. But down when you compare. The previous years for four homicides and we use it for the last five years we averaged between six and ten. Homicides a year and and again to be this deep into the year and have zero homicides last year when he twelve we had seven. In 2011 we had five. 2000 -- six 94 in 085. When you go back to on some of the did the years that you referred to when you live there again you would see that he was that you would have fifteen homicides eighteen homicides in seven easy. On large number of homicides but what has happened. I think several things have happened with all of population that growth that we've gotten in saint Tammany AM we've been fortunate that people who have moved there. Invested and community built home which brought their families built businesses and we were fortunate that that they've they've really embraced that community. And quite frankly will not tolerate criminal activity and I think that this goes a long way to our success our and at the first of mention every time is the residents who live in saint Tammany. There on the first when a crime does occur there the first to step up and say I will be a witness here's my name. -- when it's time to go to court that's very important and -- we've been a beneficiary of it. And then I think we've gotten smarter in law enforcement we we are better trained we we constantly. Look around that the the region and we in the nation for best practices and and try to. -- make sure that our deputies are equipped with the best tools that we could possibly give them. -- but when you consider again. -- forest rating or judging success in the seventies and eighties we can't half the population. That we do today -- -- yet down crime in every category is reduced still the most reported crimes in saint -- -- burglaries and thefts but even those crime candidate can attack categories are significantly down as well. But you know you do have the last time I was over there and again it's just a beautiful parish. But I got real traffic issues yeah. -- it is John because unfortunately for the most part on the ridge didn't keep up with the population growth both state and and federated she did you really. It's a challenge parish president Brister is working tirelessly to improve some of that infrastructure opening. New east west corners throughout the parish. But there's things are costly and take -- men and credit to her and her staff. And they recognize the challenges that our residents face whether commuting. Many times it it takes longer -- -- -- from man to bill to -- some now than it did from New Orleans in two men and because of the congestion trying to get out one tiny. Which for the most part it's the single thoroughfare that most of our commute into commuting residents use. When you did have the murders in the past few years would you say that. Most of them work domestic. Yeah and -- 1996. -- I'm became share if we had eleven homicides a year all eleven where domestic violence related. We were fortunate to get some federal monies on some grant money to dedicate to investigative services and prevention health it prevention services for victims and we we curtail those crimes known to -- if we have one. Or two out of that's a lot the remaining or drugs. Drugs here let's talk about domestic bonds first round because you said the most important -- that is prevention correct they're too many cases where there a woman is murdered. And if she's a worker she's walking in her house and clearly she has followed the rules trying to get help. And it just falls through the -- what are you doing I mean you have people over there who have domestic issues. Yeah and we've had some of the the most high profile cases James McGee case murders wife and his son and shot his daughter. In and Amendola area and so we've we've had our share of this Angela and we have invested as I said not only federal money about local dollars as well and specializing investigations. Partnering with safe harbor. Parish government anyone and we could for public education and getting knowledge to would be victims. That they half to take that first out. And then as we became more credible to victims or potential victims. I think our success was driven from that that date they could not trust law enforcement. The end and in this profession for the number years I have on that wasn't always the case yet we. Iron in years past would -- victims that obviously were trauma to honest and and if they didn't. Swear odd statement -- -- award from the justice of the peace there abuser was allowed to continue. That that changed dramatically with new launch our district attorney Walter Reed is has been a leader and domestic violence enforcement and prosecution. And our parish for almost thirty years now. I'm so I think you look at this the whole pitcher is is I think why we can claim a success of have an eleven of eleven homicides be domestic violence related. Two I think the last one was a couple of years ago and. We -- talking with your Jack strain saint Tammany -- stay with this and if you have any questions for the share don't hesitate to call us we'll be right back. This is Angela under the -- well our guest today is sheriff Jack strain of saint Tammany parish were very appreciative of your being here. And also with this is his captain George Barnett who is also the public information officer and chief deputy Brian trainer I'm just bringing everybody in because will now have a discussion let's start with. Drugs. More people more drugs. More people more money more drugs I agree on that that is. The -- now we constantly face marijuana is still the drug of choice in our parish. But we have all of the other challenges that -- neighboring jurisdictions have them on meth labs heroin. The synthetics obviously we were at the forefront of of what was going on with synthetic drugs. Work with did the governor's office our district attorney. With our school superintendent to make sure that. We got as much information out about news on synthetics as we could unfortunately we did have some deaths before we were able to get the public information. Out in informed the public doesn't have bath salts and -- I think yes that's correct and I'm proud to say that we we are what we're watching. And tremendous decrease and and that's -- use and in -- -- -- So I think that -- Foreman a public getting way out in front. We overall have been successful and -- even more -- because it was horrible horrible drug what there has been a big uptick in. -- correct are you seeing that as well. No not as much as what some numbers in my neighboring jurisdictions have for example this year in 2013 we made ten arrest for heroin used. And relations. Comparative analysis and 2009 we may 24 arrest. So I think in and you look at -- and appreciating years. Twelve NOA and and -- eighteen and 1116. And 201215. A rest for her -- so it's not what went I think in some areas are it's being -- an epidemic. I don't believe that but it's certainly exist in we have done at the corner beliefs for guess they can be attributed to heroin so it. It's it's a nasty drug in and look at if you have a young team talked to him about it because it's an instant addiction and -- carries. Pretty stiff sentence if your -- But let me just just ask you. Only because this conversation has come up in many different venues about the legalization of marijuana if -- your thoughts on that. Well like everyone -- you know date for their varying opinions -- I do not believe marijuana should be legalized. I think that it did has potential to grow and and cause more problems than we are prepared to deal with as a gateway as a gateway I mean it's easy to say just legalize it and we'll deal with what comes in and -- and and I think when you look at the use of these these other drugs if you legalize marijuana. And 50% of the gate we fear is realized. Then look at the potential you have for even more -- from Austin and more destruction and and the workforce. You know we. We on have to work releases and in our office and we know the value of of bringing employees. -- to a work site drug free employers want to know is that a person showing up for drug free. And I think if you begin legalizing these substances. -- won't be the case. I I'm just saying that feeling so much a crime is economically motivated correct. And so how can we minimize that. Yeah on ended that is. I guess that's a question that I'm nationally has been discussed and no one has a clear answer from the federal level to the state and local level. I know that there are some some experimenting with legalization of marijuana and several states now and I'm sure than. That all of the on the scientists will be studying intently. Those communities to find if there is any evidence that points to. Whether or not you can successfully do this without either causing more of a problem. Or do you -- do you truly see signs that you've benefited that community that by legalizing marijuana enhanced. An economic impact I personally. And not in favor of -- Of legalizing. Let me ask -- we have done programs on. More mentally ill people in prisons. Do you have that is an issue. We do anyone any sheriff who operates in jail in the past that issue -- jails had become mental hospitals. Are our physicians and our jails deal daily with severe mental illness and -- You know many times our deputies find themselves dealing more with mentally ill. Patients mentally ill patients than they do and speeding and other crime violations it is a problem. Obviously you've probably heard of that suicide problem in saint Tammany parish where for some time we've led the state in the number of people who take their own bonds. So it's obvious that it will come to the jail. And our deputies aren't trained physicians. You know we we have we're probably one of the few. Jails and and the entire region that employ psychiatrist. A full staff and our -- along with medical doctors and registered nurses so. It's something that we are trying to combat. We have to have some relief from the state or federal level because it is a crisis when you have someone. That is on that is committing crimes out of illness as opposed to malice. And this is if we have just shifted the problem. You know hospitals to you. But that's exactly of when it when a mental hospitals close and and a person has committed a crime. You know and again it may it may be a crime that they had no knowledge that they were committing but because there there are no hospitals are. Doctors. To evaluate. That the people sit in -- What his -- -- what is your budget we were talking earlier with Burl Cain. Concerning. This sort of growth industry we have with prisons and all the ancillary. Companies around it. What are your thoughts on cutting back. Well I think. -- warning -- and then guys it's a state have done an incredible job brand's first and educating us and as a society of who should or should not be in jail in many ways. I'm he may be a little more optimistic of people then I'm maybe. May be maybe he feels that someone can be hero of -- rehabilitated. Before I would. But at the end of the day I think that that's a state level they have been leaders and and trying to reduce the number of people sitting in jail look for innovative. Avenues to. Rehabilitate individual city heard him speak at the reentry program I think that -- great leadership at the state level we're participating with them reentry Orleans parish is. And reentry in and down and some of the other programs that they have -- created at the state level and have been embraced by guests at the local level. Really are changing lives and behavior. Behavior is the target here if you change the behavior. He did and then you have a much better chance of making a productive citizen out of a former inmate. We have programs in our office -- in the work release our trusty program. That we we try to. Clean steer people to a clear path and one landed them in jail. And as we were discussing within -- is just a small percentage ago -- of the hole. Budget that you have for that rehab and yet ultimately if you don't do something. The chances of different percentages -- rate is great. -- -- -- and it center stand as a society we we all want the offender to be locked away and never to threaten us again. But when you look at the fact that in our systems they will be adjudicated to they'll be of that pain there there price. And they will be released now while we have that captive audience it's what we do at that point in time I do we simply just leave them there and an open negate one day and say go home. Now you have a person has no job no education and certainly. It will return back to the lifestyle I got him there in the first place because they have no alternative. Show again under the leadership of this the secretary in a war member of warning came. We have come a long way in a 32 years and I've been in this profession I have watched -- -- to state -- local level. Where -- have changed and we understand that we have. A small amount of time to try to reach these people and and try to turn their laughter. Stay with us we're gonna continue our conversation with sheriff Jack strain but now let's go to chain rose in the newsroom. We are joined by Jack strain the sheriff of saint Tammany parish I think the most astounding thing it has been said that. The population which we know mr. exploded isn't at the fastest growing perish in that state. Yeah we have we have for years been the fastest girl and -- from the eighties -- now it's essentially doubled. And yet your crime rate is significantly less correct that just says a lot. It does and as I said earlier I think credit first goes to our residents -- his long time and those who had just moved there when they move or live in saint Tammany. There's an investment in the community and as I said earlier they can't wait for crime is committed and they witnesses they are the first on the scene integrate our deputies -- tell them what they saw. And Don ready to appear in court if necessary. Let's talk about the technology that -- the new world. Of crime fighting in that impact. It is technology has changed our profession and again with 32 years of watching this profession I can tell you that nothing has changed him more. Then the advent of computers and our agency has long invested in that type of technology has made us more efficient. I think has helped us serve our residents more professionally and in Georgia actually heads up that divisions and George if you wanna -- a bit about -- Sure. The -- for years we saw on on TV shoes. How old. So many who what you're in law enforcement shoot somebody would. Type so quickly into a computer and it would split and spit him out an answer and blue for the twenty minutes was up the crime itself. And for many years we thought well that's that's pie in the sky it'll never happen while you really are starting to see happen. So much of law enforcement now is database driven and so many of our investigators used. National and regional databases as a tool. To solve crimes that are providing them with information that 1020 years ago was when dreamed. So the technology that the sheriff's office and the sheriff has always insisted. Not just encouraged us to be on the on the forefront of all those emerging technologies and new tools that but he insisted that we do. And I think you you clearly see. In our crimes solve rate the pay off of that dedicated all of the murders in the last few years you've solved. Yes -- -- with with with very few exception there have been. One -- two incidents we're. Murders have actually occurred outside of our jurisdiction. But the victim was discovered within the parish. All but Warren. Have been solved. Mean. That we is that they call the CSI effect because of this incredible series of shows that we do expect and 22 minutes there. Or an hour to have an issue -- -- -- saying is the technology is real now. And if it does help. Yes -- but but not just for violent crimes. The aid greatly in solving property crimes as well which traditionally nationwide. -- some of the most difficult crimes to solve if you think. About a resident who calls us to reports that he had a lawn -- stolen out of his. Garage -- his front yard. There aren't that many. Tips to go on there aren't that many many leads to generate but through some of these tools and I won't go through the all the details about how they work. But we're now. Able to put our detectives in a position where they can have a reasonable expectation that they were. Recover that residents along -- or. Ma on and that makes all the difference in the world we do have some callers let's start with them buried. -- you had a comment or question for the sheriff. Yes that exactly that you want it to do it. Directing traffic I see in numerous occasions where. Errors a minor accident that takes place and there's a state police troop but there are 19 in shares on the -- ball and and other vehicles spare but I'd never see anyone out there are directing traffic. I'm just wondering if maybe you can direct your your deputies. The start doing. And now the question about the inspector general. Yeah let me let me answer quickly on a traffic issue very many times what will happen you'll seeds there's -- troopers are deputies trying as quickly as they can. On to get in there get the information needed in cleared the accident scene. As opposed to one taken longer to get that information said that that are hoping is what you experienced and now certainly will pass out along. I'm tar trafficking unit to make sure that we if at all possible leaking and is much traffic movement as quickly as we can and you have another question. I did and I'm just curious as to whether or not you are supporting the effort -- the inspector general and saint Tammany parish and whether or not the inspector general without -- transparency over you'll. Well that that's something that is as you know under way right now we have a committee member. On the on then the panel that has been put together to examine it I have a lot of questions about an inspector general and does another level of bureaucracy make better government. But I'm open minded to it there -- will look at it is -- transparency. The sheriff is a constitutional law office I don't know that I can give up that constitutional power. But certainly I think when you look at the last seventeen years as sheriff I have been committed to as much transparency as we can possibly provide. I appreciate your call stay with this we're gonna continue our talk with sheriff Jack strain right after this. Sheriff Jack strain is our guest today along with captain George up Barnett and chief deputy Brian trainer. Very exciting made national news as the first one in the country to have this iris scanned technology. Tell us. That's correct we were on recognizing featured in -- of the art magazine one of our -- most popular publications these this sheriff's office she said are -- technology. We were the first in a world to integrate that into our corrections department. For example when our deputies go out now. Two to check sex offender registry location. It's all automated and with the use of Smartphones they can identify. I'm the offender as opposed to an -- and chief turner as was instrumental in the implication of the corrections department and marrying everything together and that's what earnest the national recognition. That's correct. We partner with the with the business in corrections. In the gold there was to build a database to make sure that when we release a suspect. Or an offender we make sure that it is the person that is supposed to be released -- that two fingerprints the iris scan was say -- secondary measure. Which began gaining corrections to make sure that we released proper person. Is -- expanded two -- sex offender registry division we've noticed that there was a need there and use that could be used throughout the agency not just Ankara. The person let's say a sex offender has to go to your office or -- and blink or whatever they do to get their iris scanned. And from then on you have that. That's correct it's it's just as easy as going to an -- doctor he -- -- to the screen it takes a picture of the iris and it registers in that database. With fewer information a year residents. Against who you or to make sure that that sex offender is at home they're supposed to be what our deputies go out there. To do residents check that it's not a sibling at twin. A neighbor anybody claiming to be that sex standards is no doubt about it and that person is an exposed today you have special month. Rules against four or laws. During Halloween for sex offenders. That is correct upcoming Halloween out of Vermont everyone on sex offenders out there are prohibited from masking from Costa -- From partaking in giving out candy to anyone under the age eighteen -- urging him to turn your lights off and don't wanna follow the law. To parents just be mindful when lights are off at a residence. Odds are they're not a sex offender but still the lights are off pass that house and go to the next. And what LT doing for Halloween. I love Halloween I think it is the say. You know -- dying holiday kids just don't seem to be trick or treating as much in just such fun. Yes your right. One of the one of the things -- to answer the question that we're doing is making available to all parents the ability to get on our web site. Which is best TP and so dot com and they can register. Two first they can register to receive email alerts any time -- sex offender comes in their home. But that we also give them the ability to him if they say okay we're gonna be trick or treating in this neighborhood. To look at a map that identifies. The addresses of all the sex offenders in that neighborhood so they can know before they even leave their own home. Look at these are the places we're gonna -- -- and most people are actually pretty surprised that pull up their neighborhood and there are one or two with him within a mile of their home. A sex offender isn't just one who has raped it's far beyond that. Such events you know we and there are there actually three different tiers or or levels. Someone who falls into the category. -- needing to register with sheriff's office as a sex factor. And the the first year that have to register for certainly years I believe it's fifteen years and then it goes all the way up to the really serious offenders have to register for life. So it's also -- predators it's also. Oh my gosh incest. Hate to even think -- things terms -- I guess you don't wanna think of him in society but it's real Julio Villa and now we can protect ourselves and that's sort of the bottom line. When I was a prosecutor Brian can tell you that down then the amount of communication that is required between prosecution. And on state corrections and local corrections in and a share for sponsor -- for. The in the process of identifying and registering. And then to -- continuously make sure that that person follows the law. But it's been a great tool from a prosecution perspective I think as well as along. -- it's been an invaluable tool when it's it is a true collaborative effort DA's office sheriff's office probation and parole and it's one that that we're proud of the -- shortly to say that. We are the leaders in this this sexual registry and tracking device. We'll stay with this but get ready because coming up shortly will announce the code word. In the 1000 dollar nationwide holiday cash contest on WW -- talking with the sheriff of saint Tammany parish. And clearly one of the really horrific crimes it is. We hear too much about are these school invasions in and you all have a whole system of protection. We do we -- -- -- we've worked with our school superintendent -- -- school board now for years in preparation. To make sure that our schools are safe as safe as anyone could ever be. -- product the fact that we've worked together and I think clearly. Prevented school violence and we look. Forward to continuing network was that a convention in Philadelphia. With the International Association of Chiefs of Police and I'm incredibly proud of where we York. Most of the best practices that -- learned in Philadelphia and for years been in practice and perished. And it is incredibly important to our agency to tree falls in the school board. And an incomplete by -- Angela from -- rank -- administrators and news from the school. We have. Regular meetings with the principles. Are our supervisors and supervisors of the school. We weekly walk these schools are deputies are constantly seen -- In nine in schools and it is important and and I think clearly we've been successful. Well I cannot think all three of you for being here share it means a lot to -- -- cross over and come over and talk to us and keep this up to date on what's happening in a beautiful Paris. Thank you all very very much thank --