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Press Release: Legal Lines with Locke Meredith

Sid Gautreaux

Show # 125


Attorney Locke Meredith interviews the Sheriff for East Baton Rouge Parish, Sid Gautreaux, to talk about the three hats that he wears. As Sheriff, Gautreaux wears three hats: a criminal hat, a civil hat, and a prison hat. Furthermore, Sheriff Gautreaux wants to assure everyone that he has no intention of running for mayor.

Gautreax explains that the criminal, civil, and prison departments are all separate entities that are all vitally important to the overall operation of the Sheriff’s Department. Gautreax insists that having the right people in position has really helped him do his job. Key people in the Criminal Office include Bobby Callender, Colonel, and Ralph Williams, Lieutenant Colonel. Steve Hymel is the Chief Civil Deputy, and for the Corrections Office, Gautreax has Warden Dennis Grimes working for him.

The jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s office is that of the entire parish. While their primary concern is with the unincorporated areas of the parish, Gautreaux explains that they still can be equally concerned with what is taking place in Baton Rouge, Zachary, Baker, ect. He says that the Sheriff’s office works together with the police as well as the federal and state levels of authority. Gautreaux also explains that a sheriff’s deputy can give a ticket inside of the city limits.

One of Gautreax’s first moves in office was to invite all law enforcement agencies within an eight parish regions to a conference to discuss how they could all work together. Currently, East Baton Rouge parish includes about 460,000 people, with more than half of those within the city limits of Baton Rouge. The Baton Rouge police force is about five hundred and fifty, while the Sheriff’s Department is at about 300. The Sheriff’s Department has a larger area to cover, but a slightly smaller population. Despite being only slightly more than half of the population of the parish, 80% of the crime in the parish comes from within Baton Rouge city limits, mostly in 3 or 4 area codes, Gautreax explains.

Gautreaux makes a strong case for the need of the public to be involved in law enforcement. He says that each one of his substation commanders has to come up with his/her idea each year on what they will do with their district in order to reach out to their community and connect with their people. Everything from knocking on doors to having functions encourages trust and builds relationships between the local law enforcement and the public, which helps maintain order.

The EBR Sheriff’s office has recently been expanding in both deputies and offices. They have hired 30 new deputies, and have been building new substations thanks to coordination of city governments as well as Exxon Mobil. Exxon Mobil donated a 15,000 square foot modular building to the Sheriff’s Office, which was used in two locations.

As far as statistics go, Gautreaux confirms that the homicide numbers are up for 2011, compared to last year, however outside of the city of Baton Rouge, most of the major crimes are down eight percent, with arson being the only one on the increase. Gautreaux believes there a few major contributing factors to our crime in EBR including drug and alcohol addiction, six-grade level average education, and just the general hopeless mentality of many of the youth here.

In order to target these kids, Geautreaux has enlisted a strong DARE program, all the way up to junior high, with deputies in forty different schools. DARE is Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Gautreaux believes DARE is the best program he has seen to help the youth against the direction they are often headed, but he believes it will take the entire community stepping up to make a difference, ultimately. Gautreaux uses what he calls the triangle analogy to describe three major influences to youth: school, family, and faith in God. He believes that today, many youth are missing especially their home life, and therefore they are not being taught the right values in all three areas.

Another way in which Gautreaux is trying to put an end to the crime is a self-help way of educating young prisoners. There is a faith-based wing with 120 daily volunteers coming in to have instruction with them. Gautreaux explains that his Department has started a GED wing, allowing the prisoners who choose to, to get a GED while in prison. So far over 300 have gotten their GED, all taught by volunteers. Gautreaux believes these programs are essential and are really making a difference. A major problem he points out is recidivism, that is within 3-5 years of release, 70% of released prisoners are back in prison. By educating them, hopefully this number will fall.

Besides Criminal Law, Gautreaux also is very involved in Civil Law. The Sheriff’s office has a budget of about $65 million, of which 75% is derived from millages, that is property taxes. This is used to employ about nine hundred employees. This money also goes to upgrade the equipment that the Sheriff’s office uses. New equipment includes everything from new vehicles, cameras in vehicles, and an observation tower, to tasers and bulletproof vests for all deputies.

Baton Rouge Lawyers