While he became one of the youngest sheriffs in Louisiana at the age of thirty. Craig Weber of the foolish parish has never looked back. Now 22 years later he has a department that is nationally accredited. One of only four in the state. But sheriff Weber is used to challenges. Before becoming sheriff he was a state trooper for nine years and at the same time earned a degree in criminal justice from Loyola university. And then a law degree also from oil. So today we're going to be talking about what's happening in the push parish from a man who was born and raised there and continues to call at home. And I appreciate you being here very much I was just telling him how much I love. This series of talking to share apps because I you know sheriffs are very powerful in our state. The sheriff's of people I'm always interested how I got where you are. And and you were so young. Well Angela thank you for the opportunity to come in and spent some time with you and a microphone. The story. Is really one of destiny. I was raised and born in a little small community Kramer Louisiana. Actually I was surprised I was watching the movie homebound the other night. And in the beginning and a movie SC a road that are recognized which is the Cramer road and that last little bridge across by you buff. And I said wait a minute this is the hometown I had no idea -- been filmed there. But it's a small spackle land in the northern portal -- which parish and it's one of four communities and point six Kramer shocked she Pickens tag may. And oftentimes joke with people and -- from the Bay Area from check area actually Kramer's in my hometown. In as a young boy growing up bump in a traditional family my mother was a homemaker my father was a mechanic and he worked in the sugar industry. -- literally expected to follow in his footsteps. When I was in the second -- or call one of the teachers had given us attached to take our crayons. And drop picture. But what we were going to do what we were going to be when we grew up. And the image I had of my father. Was always working on cars and a mechanic work and he wore a green outfit it was some closed at Sears sold working close -- my mother bought farm. And so to my crayons and Andrew picture of a man in green with a hood of a car up and I expect that -- -- on his footsteps and do mechanic work. And that's what I did mostly through high school and actually into high school. But ironically you look back in the alive and their people who have just the impact of the time that you don't realize it. And so I was a senior at two but Ohio school in 1979 or maybe a junior. And after taking these CT I was invited to be interviewed for a scholarship to nickel state university. And I was ambivalent about whether I was gonna go to college. No one in mind. Family prior to the my older sister we with a first generation to go to college. And going to college. Although my parents were hugely supportive and they always valued education because both of would like to have had more education and encouraged to some everywhere that they could. And so I sat through an interview and doctor -- with the time was not the president of the university. Chaired that the committee. In -- in the hole as I was getting ready to graduate I was awarded a presidential scholarship. To go to nickel state university. Well. One of the things are growing up in little small town -- traditional family values in steals upon you its value. Value that if someone's gonna pay for you to go to school you're gonna go to school at that decision had been made them. -- -- enrolled in Nickels and I was still doing mechanic work on the side attending university and working in in general studies hadn't quite focused on in my career. And then you know at age eighteen you were ready to spread your wings so I moved into an apartment in Toronto closer to college. And I realized I needed to work night she felt I needed a job where can work nights and attend school during the day. In other than being a bartender. A friend of mine. Who's a police officer for the city Attubato. Encouraged me to join the police force he said look. Take the civil service tests in I'm sure if you want to you can work the night shift and you can go to school in the daytime and I did that to the civil service test. I was hired about a city -- I was a patrol officer and I work from six that night. 2:2 in the morning and then I'd get a couple of our sleep go to school. It didn't take me long to recognize that this was a career that I was going to -- for the rest of my life. I was immediately drawn to law enforcement I changed my major to law enforcement Nichols had a criminal justice associates degree. And I completed that degree in that time I'm moved from my typical police officers to sheriff's deputy and then ultimately I was hired by the state police. And down when -- start over the state police in 1982. After about two or three years. I had a -- earning more education always have been a staunch advocate and want it to you. Pursue advanced degrees and -- was the closest universe to her bachelor's degree. In criminal justice. And we and I program and that's what I did I enrolled at Loyola and started. Pursuing that bachelor's degree criminal justice -- completed that. But took a break of about a year. And then decided. I was gonna go to law school and during the decade of the eighties and the state Louisiana's economy was soaked connected to the price of oil. That they were in much of what we see in really in and contemporary times was occurring then but -- much greater degree. The state police were not hiring and in fact all of state government was cutting back in opportunities were not looking real bright. So couple of the troopers before me had enrolled at law school and were pursuing blog agrees -- a -- -- that I've been around lawyers now. As a police officer -- -- any smarter -- 9 AM. And I was accepted and I attended -- -- that night for four years while I work for state police. And then came that critical decision in my senior year law school I was gonna make a career change and I loved what I did I was just still young man I was 29. And I want to stay in law enforcement but I couldn't justify. Having a law degree and being -- wrote officer. And luckily it just happened to coincide that the sheriff's election was in nineteen any wind and I made my decision that I was gonna run for sheriff. And acted. Take the best of both worlds I can use my legal training as an attorney and my experience is a police officer. And be the sheriff of look foolish perish. And you -- It was the most miraculous cutting its destiny it's exactly how you start it was incredible life has taken me on some journeys that have never anticipated. But a lot of it is about being open to opportunities. Seeing opportunities that others might not see and then having the courage to pursue them. And I'm sitting here today living proof that the American dream is alive and well. In that if you work hard and you believe in yourself and you set goals and you continue to trying to achieve those goals you can because that actually ran against the incumbent. Who was hugely popular at that time. You may recall his name was stuff -- yes absolutely -- -- is really innings he's now deceased and and really a fine man in many respects them. But he was like the Harry -- of public push her she was a very popular sheriff. And at that time bomb you'll may also recall giving little. History he was under the victim of an assassination attempt in 1988. There had been a long standing political rivalry. Dating back to 1972. In 1970. That then sheriff was a man by the name of -- saint Marie who had served sixteen years well in that election 71 really. But Duffy -- and Bobby toward oh were both candidates challenging -- And the plan was that if he got into a runoff they would then consolidate their support and beat him. And that's what happened Bobby talk -- became the sheriff in 197271. And a -- then came to work has achieved yet but he in the southern portal from each parish. Four years after that Duffy and Bobby ran against each other and a few beat Bobby so Bobby was a one term share. Four years later they had a rematch Duffy beat him again. Four years later Bobby gets elected parish president and Duffy is now the -- in his third term. Four years after that I think it's reelected and he helps a candidate defeat Bobby. So for sixteen years as this fierce fierce rivalry. And in 1988. To -- Bobby conspired with two men and they. And produced a pipe bomb. And they said the pipe bomb up next share of -- hard fact. Share -- is visiting the deceive the senior citizens for Christmas something I'll be doing next week. And when he came out of the civics and he noticed a brown paper sack along side of the score where he had parked it and he nudged dissect what Islam his foot. They detonated the bomb and it nearly nearly killed him and literally almost took his foot off. And there was this huge massive manhunt. And ultimately it turned out that sheriff the former sheriff Bobby total had been involved with two other gentlemen. And an attempt to kill sheriff -- -- and -- only pacers. They -- -- that's correct and and serve -- died in prison. Fast forward 1991. Time this 29 year old you know state trooper. A law student he and I decide that the best job in the foolish -- and one that I can do the best is to be sheriff now. Interestingly and a 22 years later -- -- look back on it. I think -- last week at a young man come into my office who's contemplating running for a local office next year. And you you find that as you've been in office for a while people do that they they wanna run for office take them they go to the 88 of the sheriff the parish president -- by its elected and they. Explain and -- always make time the government pushed big believer in the political process I mean I am -- product of that. And I listen to what people have to say not try to do an honest assessment last some some questions about their organization that the they're backing their finances all the things that make sense that you would want to know. And then sometimes maybe today a disappointment I'll tell him if I don't think it's a real good time for them to run. Often think that him he looks good maybe you should you certainly have a good plan you could be a contender. Well if fine we're giving myself advice. I would have said are you crazy. You never run for political office you're 29 years all you don't have any money you don't have any political acumen you have no structure. And you're running against a very popular incumbent what's wrong with you. And. To do it but I didn't do did it what a great story. A tribute not only of your beginnings but. And as you say it was destiny but also of your predecessors. It's been an interest in time all -- in the course to follow up on the story as I mentioned. Two predecessor ago sheriff Toto was attempt to assassinate share -- And then I get into the election in 1991 and I am just focused on doing the right thing and I'm getting advice from all kinds of people. And there's nothing no election however runner have run -- can come close to the grass roots experience. And it was such a low budget campaign. -- mother and I were reflecting a couple nights ago I didn't have the money to buy yard signs. But the previous year they had been a district attorney's election and one of the candidates who had run an -- election and didn't win. Donated to all of his signs to me and and by that time Cora class with a product that most signs of being made up today and were being made of -- Well the backside those signs will blank. So I had enough money to buy my own silk screen. And that's how they -- make signs and teachers that soaks in some bought a smokescreen to lovable big when a small and and my parents and friends and handful workers on weekends and nights would get in the garage and we would silk screen these signs. And go put him out and if you took him down and looked on the other side you see there was somebody else assigns. So when -- absolutely I hope you have one of those I do I was looking at wind last night during the saints game I was. Overhead Dave's garage and smoking a cigar watching the game enjoy myself and he had taken all the dust on and I can see the imperfections of the -- -- screen there we had. Because yet to clean no silk screens and after a while to deteriorate. And so we would take tape and we retain good bad edges to keep it alive for as long as we could. But but this was meant to date and does it really lies and fortunately. I -- you know sheriff -- what was an exceptionally fine human being a couple of. Observation -- one is that. He was an older man at that time I think he was into his sixties and his hero of policing. From the fifties and sixties. Was no longer effective by 1991. And you know we were facing some pretty sophisticated issues in the law enforcement everything from. Drugs to be gaining financial crime computer crime technological advances. As well as things areas of domestic violence and in the -- changing and things are becoming. Information age as it was it was coming about. And you know the policing techniques and philosophies of the fifties and sixties and seventies didn't necessarily trends send. I'm so that think that was one observation that may be that the the the parish had grown was becoming more metropolitan and people were. Demanding better answers to more on Syria's complex problems. I'm and share pro is a man who wanted to say yes he he he had a lot of frenzy was a very approachable human being -- And be on his ability to interact in and he was just everywhere and just new people is very warm and welcoming and I think sometimes people -- asked him for things that he really probably in retrospect you know should've said no to. And then that and finally. You know match what occurred was the business side of the office because during that 1991 election the FBI began an investigation. Into the sheriff's office. And at that point there was some some concerns that the that I kind of felt incensed. In of course when you have that investigation. Whether the investigation leads to conviction or not it's certainly lends a -- to the whole election. So I was I was fortunate made the decision take credit for having the courage to get in the election. When no one else would dummy in one of the candidate and ultimately -- you know and that the stars lined up 11 turning point in the election and again you know you start having conversations with people as you reflect back but. We have a televised. Debate. And the on small local elections that was not common that was the first ever televised debate. And you people talk about that Nixon Kennedy debate in throws to first televised debate in Nixon had the 5 o'clock shadow and he was kind of ruffled. Well in that debate. Tom have being being in law school in and you know I was we're well prepared I was very well prepared for all the issues and very articulate. On various topics. And there was a point where your program ruffled him and -- came out made the comment about state police that was derogatory. That was sort of a turning point you know it kind of gave me some attention so where you can look back and analyze and over analyzed but it was just an exciting time. It was just the most jubilant experience of a lifetime and and and I tell that story when I talked to young people. And encouraged him that you may -- succeed -- everything to try and achieve that the American dream and a democratic process and the electoral process. For all of its flaws and all of the shortcomings. Can work in this work and don't lose confidence and an end always no matter what exercise your right to go. Absolutely. Look push parish sheriff Craig -- our special guest today. And we're talking about look foolish parish about how he became sheriff 22 years ago. And -- sort of hit on the crime I it was interesting Friday before I left something came across the wire and it was. That a man had -- and get this wrong but a man scuffled with one of your deputies any whips out brass knuckles. And I said to myself who uses brass knuckles. That's true closer rare that they used to see those as novelties and a one time they were a major issue back in their fifties and sixties you know when they had. Brawling and motorcycle gangs and telephone line had. It's in right now just put them on the Waller solemn for the value the brass at. But how weird -- that anyway we need to -- that but let's talk about your parish. And the issues it faces I'm assuming that you like all parishes have drug problems. Well I I think -- to put in perspective. Drugs or the centerpiece of crime across the world particularly across the country. Because people tend to focus only on the addict are the transaction. Are the -- person growing marijuana on the person making methamphetamine on the person getting Scripps and selling Scripps. That's just one component the bigger component to the drug problem -- problem substance abuse and and an addiction. All the crimes related to -- the -- had five homicides this year all drug related. Either people buying selling drugs or involved in the drug trade but for the drugs those five homicides probably would not of occurred. Many of the domestic violence cases that we see is a result of addiction. Someone get strong they get high they behave differently and all of a sudden they -- committed battery. Form Roberts. Someone needs money. They may need money because they have to pay a drug dealer. They may need money because studio lights are getting turned off whatever the case may be they decide they're gonna walk into a mom and pop shop party can walk into a convenience store. And threaten someone with a -- her gun and get a few dollars and get out of there and the person doesn't cooperate next thing you know you -- -- robbery perhaps a homicide. -- the shoplifting. People who go to Wal-Mart and go to other merchants and take property from them. The -- burglaries. The people I just walked down the neighborhood and going to unlock cars and grab a few pennies or two dollars and take laptops or guns or whatever they confide in the car at home burglars. I will tell you that if if the substance abuse problem. -- could be controlled and managed crime in every category would be reduced by at least 50% if not more. Let's ask you just based on that and do you think there should be the legalization. Of at least marijuana. -- that cut down on me. The robberies in the things that people do to get. Money I do not agree that marijuana should be legalized. -- predominately because marijuana is one of the gateway trucks. It's an opportunity for someone to experience. The high associated with smoking marijuana. And then wanna try other drugs that produce a different result. So I am not a proponent of legalization of marijuana but I am a proponent. A strong proponent of drug treatment courts. And alternatives. To. Traditional incarceration. When he comes to addressing the problem first and foremost everyone will tell you. That prevention -- Is the beginning if you can prevent people and convinced that -- and there are all the programs to greats in the bears and we can straighten all that may have to mentoring programs I mean that is. Certainly the best the utilization of of resources but. They're the reality of life is that they're going to be people who are gonna get addicted in a variety of ways that's the other thing that people often realized. Sometimes. A person has a car crash. Aren't our our surgery or an accident. Any -- out on legal drugs they start out what prescription medication. But it doesn't controller pain in -- can't get any more prescriptions. They're variety of reasons why a person becomes addicted. Some people have the addictive personalities. Some people grew up in such horrific environments that their only escape from. The conditions that they live in in the torment that and they abuse. Is sent to use chemicals. So you're saying that there shouldn't be the criminal as a nation that we hands right now there should be exceptions. Wish where people are not sent to prison. That -- needs to be discretion within deduced the judicial system and a criminal justice system. To tailor the interventions strategy to meet the needs of the individual. Prison has to be part of that component for for many people come as a law as a way of enforcing compliance. Look foolish as what I believed to be a model drug treatment court I've been involved on the advisory board. From its inception I stay involved. Every graduation that I can attend that -- even require. Members of my staff to attend graduation. So they conceded tangible results. Of people who went from a life of criminal behavior. -- some of it just strokes with some that other crimes associated with the drug addiction. Two -- starting out and you being born again really and now always -- here because we're attacking. The problem. And it's source were taking no way. The appetite that the person has for the truth and -- giving them alternative to lift clean and become productive law abiding citizens. And and so while -- you know while drugs will always be a centerpiece of criminal activity in the area I think we have to recognize that we need to. Focus. Our resources on trying to correct a problem as well as prevent the problem now enforcement is important. There are people who use literally look at this as strictly a business they have absolutely no regard for the lives -- they destroy. It's economics and those are addicted to distributors in the and the dealers. And -- we work with task force who are we DEA. We have a very aggressive approach -- literally every day. We're releasing press releases for people who have been arrested for possession for manufacture for distribution. That needs to occur and in incarceration needs to be part of that for those people. Because they are making a conscious decision. To hurt people utilizing chemicals like drugs. As opposed to the person. Who got evicted from who knows why and it just fighting the addiction. And they don't have that did did the tools and the wherewithal to have to fight on their own. Part of the success of of drug court of course is to treatment component. But the other thing is to this day day in forced compliance. Through everyone knows people and maybe have people their family or maybe that himself all that person. Who they are not happy about the addiction they don't agree -- that. But they're powerless to stop it on their own. And they try. And they get in trouble. They wrecked car bombing that puts him on the house they agree okay I'll go to treatment they go there for ten days thirty days spent a bunch of money. They get out there's nobody. Has any authority to make them comply -- a treatment program so they go right back into the cycle of drugs again. Whereas for the treatment court the drug treatment court to plead guilty to a crime. In the if you relapse you're very welcome find yourself spending a week or two in jail and when you're sitting in itself saying the itself again. We have a caller Larry from uptown. Larry. Very I don't -- good -- an afternoon. I was very happy to hear your government that relates to you treatment. But there at the big elephant in the room and audit won't acknowledge it not. But the problem. If you put a political game -- the middle of the floor it's not going to be. Should be accurate about the stroke that's what people do not get the -- all would beat -- went all the -- So the drug and we all ought to -- out if you look at. Lot people. You -- their whole myriad at a rat milk agree but the relativity is. Bet a lot in drug is not -- open about it -- -- -- -- -- Bubble gum is not legal but ultimately about a -- -- Effective direct illegal but it about it that smoke. Now if you got drugs illegal. It does not make him an acceptable. You can buy drugs and -- it -- the -- Well equality and -- community in this country. They Rhode that are readily available equal built -- legal action you take the money that the being wasted all of the war on -- Take that -- put that money to -- Did he will likely affect. Its well not a -- back. It few legal you take out all the optics that involved and nobody Robin -- stool. A regular -- the brick and I'll mystical project and you also McDowell -- That being that belt and belt that that outlook for an inflation. That the so it would it would draw. Well marijuana coming out of the doubles. All ought not all of the outlook Columbia felt about it to sit. And it toppled to be belt when it gets into the beat the America we got -- inflation like that. You aren't quite sick people to do if you take -- in -- Take that all -- inflation out. We're bowl -- that they do and that we ought to pitch did you order the practice you get. That money back into treatment if about it right now want to kick what are they don't. They've got a problem would -- big because we we made the problem be different that what the. Okay Larry thank you very much and I really am interested in what you're saying but I'd like the sheriff to comment. Let me just address couple points the first point. -- putting -- drugs in her room and the drugs in and of -- for harmless. That's one of the arguments displayed with respect to guns and gun control the guns don't kill so maybe we shouldn't this. Not have any laws regulating. Any use of guns firearms or access to firearms there's a reality. And that reality is for the whether it's -- inflationary profit from. Columbia. Whether it's a pharmaceutical company. They have to be consumers. And is to consumers. And the end of the chain that create the demand in a willing to pay for the product. -- the financial incentive is not from reported consumer. The consumer has the addiction -- the person. Who. That's making the steely nerves are robbing banks whatever the case may be to get the money or even pulling a gun to get the money. They are than the reason that the drug's success and we he's right about now the drug court in the treatment attack in consumption. But the problem associated. With the drugs and the reason they're illegal is because they -- -- a person's perception -- ability. To think rationally intact rationally. All of the crime associated with people who get high. Or because they're not making good decisions I can take you to my jail and interview. Two thirds maybe three quarters of prisoners why did you commit this matter while I was high. Why did you rubbed his back while why that you -- this person while I was on drugs I was on alcohol. So there are some behaviors. Associated with the chemicals. That's the the public policy behind making the chemicals -- illegal. And and and -- so if you legalize marijuana for that -- any other drug. And people then get the perception that well this is a legal product it's something that I can freely and safely consume and and not be concerned about. I think you know all of a sudden see an explosion maddening you have people in the work force operating equipment you're gonna have people in homes living getting high end and be more interest to them in consuming drugs in -- and everything else in my. Ethic and Alito are horrific result of a lot more crime. And I don't think economic insanity is going to be what makes a difference as to whether people choose to consumer not consume. Sheriff thought Craig Weber with the foolish bearish Parrish is with us. And we have some great discussions and I don't know how many people knew but that you were president of the national share sheriff's association. And I would imagine that you. Had an opportunity to go all over the country and gets talked to sheriffs -- all over and kind of what did you learn. About the future of where crime fighting is going. Let me digress little bit talk by the office of the share it's one of the oldest offices that we still have an existence it's worth a thousand years old dates back to the tenth century in England. And the -- -- -- come from two words Shire which was a unit of land like a parish -- county -- state. And the protector of the -- back in the time. And tenth century was a re far I'd be so if you as a citizen needed to a police officer he'd say some in the char Reeve. The read of the Shire and those two words became sheriff and then -- course we colonize when England colonized America they brought the office of the share but it was the first. Presence of law enforcement in new America and so it's got a rich history that dates back way back into the tenth century. And sheriffs as as a whole are connected to their communities because most like me. Grew up there and they went to school there there associations. Their family. -- -- in their network it's that set. They are connected in every way that you can be connected wanna see improvements. In as the president of the -- sheriff's association had the opportunity. To be the face in the voice of sheriffs across the country and visit different offices in almost unanimously. CC people who are striving to improve their communities and then collectively they approved statement nation. And to increase professionalism and one of the ways that we've increased professionalism. Is thirty accreditation process which is something I'm extremely proud of thank you should be. One of only four I hate that we're out of time what we we I know this is what happens when you have a great share appear telling wonderful stories. We will have you back I cannot thank you enough sheriff Craig Weber the foolish perished. Now the newsroom.