Drug arrests have plummeted in Baton Rouge since the fatal officer-involved shooting of Alton Sterling. Crime analyst Jeff Asher says they saw similar occurrences in other cities that had police shootings, like Ferguson, Chicago, and Baltimore.
“They all led to widespread protests, much like in Baton Rouge, a significant drop in what you might call proactive policing in the form of narcotics enforcement,” Asher said.
Asher says the homicide rate also increased during the same time period, which raises the question as to what will happen in Baton Rouge. He says this could just be a natural response to dealing with protests.
“In terms of, you’ve got a lot of officers that you’re pulling off of doing other things to respond to the one big things that the department is dealing with, which is the protests,” Asher said.
Asher says dealing with protests is a plausible explanation for the initial drop in narcotics enforcement, but it doesn’t explain why that drug arrest rate has stayed down.
“It could certainly be a onetime drop that’s back to normal within a couple of weeks, but as of really about a week ago it hasn’t returned to normal. So there’s obviously more going on there,” Asher said.
The Louisiana Lottery is calling 2016 the year of the jackpot as once again we’re seeing a huge prize up for grabs tomorrow. Saturday’s Powerball jackpot has jumped up to 478 million dollars. Louisiana Lottery Spokesperson Kim Chopin says this jackpot has been growing since May 7th when it was last hit at 430 million dollars.
She says it doesn’t matter how big the jackpot is, the odds are always the same.
“You’re looking at odds of 1 in 292.2 million to win that jackpot but the odds of winning any prize in Powerball is just 1 in 25.”
Chopin says the cash value is 330.6 million dollars. She says the big jackpots are happening more often after Powerball underwent a matrix change to correspond with the increase in player population.
“Right now, all states with lotteries are participating, so there are 47 lotteries that now participate in Powerball with a playing population of about 304 million.”
Chopin says these jackpots just keep getting bigger and bigger. She says this is Powerball’s 5th largest prize.
“When you look at the fact that Powerball started in 1992, 9 of the top 10 jackpots have just occurred since 2012.”
Grand Isle’s biggest event of the year, the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, is underway. The massive fishing festival draws thousands of people every year. Event spokesperson, Heather Martin says on the first day of the 88th annual rodeo, a man from Houma caught a 167 pound fish that took him 45 minutes to reel in.
“I know it’s not our record keeper, but that is pretty big,” Martin said.
The fishing rodeo began in 1928 and is informally referred to as the Mardi Gras of Grand Isle. Martin says in addition to the fishing, there will be live bands playing tonight and Saturday night as well. She says every registered fisherman is also entered to win a 20 foot boat. She says the even draws huge crowds every year.
“We have thousands of people who come in and out of our tent daily,” Martin said.
Martin says plenty of fisherman have already started reeling them in, but she expects even more to come out for the final day of the event on Saturday.
“We have a few hundred registered to fish that are fishing, and usually a lot of people just come out on Saturday because people work on Friday. So we’ll have a bunch more fishers out there,” Martin said.
As the new school year is right around the corner, about one in three students who thought they would receive a voucher to attend a private school are now on a waiting list. President of the Louisiana Federation for Children Ann Duplessis says it’s very devastating to these families. She says over 400 young people who anticipated being placed in a private school have now been told a week before school starts, they won’t have a spot.
“It has been very, very unsettling to the families not knowing what is going to happen a week before school.”
Duplessis says these students could be forced to go to some of the worst schools. She says we now have situations where siblings are split up and won’t be attending the same school.
“One child will have to go to a school in one part of the city, the other child the other part of the city. It’s really caused a lot of disruption.”
The state cut the voucher program by 2.5 million dollars for the 2016-2017 school year because of Louisiana’s massive budget deficit. But Duplessis says she’s hopeful legislators can resolve this issue soon because this is a huge problem.
“Because it’s just not fair or right to have these families, the most at risk families, have to go through this.”
Police have located and arrested the father of a 4-month-old
baby who was found dead at home in Lake Charles, and an additional person has
been booked in connection with the incident. The mother, 25-year-old Courtney
Moore, was arrested at home shortly after the warrant was obtained. Police
Chief Don Dixon says they received a call to investigate a death at an
apartment complex two weeks ago.
“There was a deceased 4-month-old Larry L. Champ. There were no signs of injuries. They baby was laying face down,” Dixon said.
40-year-old Larry Champ and Moore each face charges of 2nd Degree Murder. 23-year-old Danielle Allen was booked with Accessory after the fact. Dixon says disturbing toxicology results came back from the child’s autopsy.
“A lab report came back indicating that the baby had a .0475 blood alcohol content,” Dixon said.
Champ is being held on $1.2 million dollars bond, and Moore $800,000. District Attorney John DeRosier called the child’s death a tragedy.
“We in law enforcement are the warriors and spokesmen for those young children who cannot speak for themselves and cannot defend or represent themselves,” DeRosier said.
Researchers at the LSU AgCenter have determined that mosquito pesticides do not pose a serious health risk to honeybees. Entomologist Kristen Healy says they performed a series of tests with various pesticides, and they kept coming to the same conclusion.
“Mosquito control, when done properly, really should have minimal effects on honeybees,” Healy said.
The AgCenter received a grant from the EPA to research the effects of pesticides on honeybees, because there have been significant annual losses in the bee population the last few years. Healy says they performed tests both in the lab and the field and found.
“The products were 100 times more toxic to mosquitos than they were to bees, and those rates that we generally apply in the field would not be high enough to kill bees,” Healy said.
Healy says the goal of the study was to evaluate the effects of pesticide spraying trucks. She says when done right, the spray shouldn’t impact the honeybees.
“Bees are in the hive at night when mosquito control is usually done, and by the time those bees come out in the morning to forage, those pesticides have already broken down,” Healy said.
Louisiana’s film industry has taken a hit since lawmakers put a cap on the state’s film tax incentive program last year, but business agent for a New Orleans film workers union, Cory Parker, says things are looking up. He says some smaller productions are coming to the Bayou State again, likely seeking the qualified film professionals here.
“We have such a deep infrastructure of crew here that are available, and when they go elsewhere, they’re having trouble finding crew,” Parker said.
During the 2015 legislative session, legislators placed a $180 million cap on film tax credits the state can issue every year, which caused uncertainty in the industry. Parker says Louisiana still has one of the best film tax programs in the country and movie makers are realizing that again.
“The phones are starting to ring, and we’re seeing some bigger shows, or some higher profile shows, showing up. So hopefully the trend continues,” Parker said.
Parker is optimistic that next year, legislators can pass legislation that will make the film tax credit program stronger and eliminate some of the concerns film makers.
“I don’t know what that solution is just yet, but we are working on it and talking with legislators and talking with industry leaders to try and come up with that,” Parker said.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch meets today with the U.S. Attorney in Baton Rouge and other US Justice Department officials for a roundtable discussion. Former U.S. Attorney Don Cazayoux says Lynch is likely trying to learn more about the efforts to improve police relationships with the community and also the latest into the investigation of Alton Sterling’s death.
“Everyone is looking for a path which both recognizes the extreme dangers that our law enforcement officers face, as well as, the overarching guarantee of equal justice.”
Lynch is also scheduled to have a meeting this morning with law enforcement first responders. Cazayoux says Lynch wants to get the perspective of police officers and discuss ways to improve community policing.
“Try to figure out, are there ways maybe that the department can help in terms of setting some best practices, ways of maybe even providing more resources to our law enforcement community.”
Cazayoux says he believes the Alton Sterling case will likely be brought up during the roundtable discussion. He says she also will receive updates on the investigation into the July 17th attack in Baton Rouge.
“To see if there is anybody else involved, whether the shooter had any encouragement, any assistance from anyone else, so whether or not there is another case there.”
Hundreds gathered at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge to celebrate the lives and mourn the loss of Officer Matthew Gerald, Deputy Brad Garafola, and Cpl. Montrell Jackson. State and federal leaders spoke at the vigil saying the greatest moments often come after the darkest times.
“We cannot let this tragedy define us, but it can direct us as we move forward. It can push us to do better,” Governor John Bel Edwards said.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the importance of community policing and addressed the struggle of doing so when law enforcement budgets get slashed year after year. He says one thing we can do, both police and citizens, is get to know one another as people.
“We’ve got to close the distance, not just in Baton Rouge but all across America, between the neighborhood and law enforcement. We did it before, and it worked,” Biden said.
The wives of the three fallen officers also spoke during the vigil ceremony. Tonja Garafola, the widow of Deputy Brad Garafola, says these heroes did not deserve this, but...
“God will strengthen, comfort, and get us through this tragedy, as I know we now have three guardian angels to watch over us. They will never be forgotten, and they will always be our heroes,” Garafola said.
Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson is asking voters to support a proposed constitutional amendment this fall that establishes a property tax exemption for surviving members of a fallen first responder. He says a vote in favor of proposed amendment number 4 would be something that Louisianians can do to help these families in their time of great need.
"We feel helpless sometimes when we watch all these tragedies play out on the news with our law enforcement," said Johnson.
Johnson says it would apply to the family home of the spouses of any member of the armed forces, National Guard or a law enforcement or fire protection officer killed in the line of duty.
He says with so many tragedies occurring in recent months, passing an amendment like this would be the least we could do for those families of those who protect and serve.
"I know a little bit about that tragedy that these families face," said Johnson. "Certainly when they lose a loved one there are all sorts of financial stresses and other problems that the families face in the aftermath."
Johnson noted that tragedies like this really hit home for Louisiana as the state has the second highest number of officer deaths this year over last. He says the amendment on the ballot November 8th would provide some tax relief for those families and be a small, but important gesture.
"This says that they matter and we stand with those who are willing to be brave enough to go out and stand for all of us," said Johnson.
Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton will accept her party's nomination at the Democratic National Convention tonight in Philadelphia. LSU Political Science Professor Bob Mann says the tone Clinton sets in her speech will be important, because not many people trust her.
“It’s about telling her story. It’s about presenting herself in a way that perhaps she hasn’t before, being vulnerable, for example, in a way that she hasn’t before. Opening herself up a little bit.”
Mann says to the public, Clinton is often seen as emotionally closed down. But he says there is another personal, caring side to her that people usually don’t see.
“She’s got to be able to show that herself and not just have people like her husband and all these other people that she’s interacted with testify on her behalf, they’ve got to see it from her.”
Mann says it would be wise for Clinton to own up to her mistakes during her speech. He says the former First Lady needs to reiterate that America is a great country already, unlike Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.
“To suggest that the United States isn’t a great country almost comes across as unpatriotic to a lot of people. She seems to take advantage of the fact the Republican Convention was really about disparaging the United States.”
A Baton Rouge man is facing felony charges after threatening to harm US Senate candidate David Duke and claiming he would kill people for the death of Alton Sterling. State Police Sgt. Jared Sandifer says 22-year-old Anthony Moore made the threats in two separate YouTube videos posted earlier this month.
“In those videos he threatened violence against law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge. He also threatened violence against David Duke if he happened to run for senator,” Sandifer said.
Moore said in one video, “If David Duke comes senator for Louisiana, bro, I am killing this man.” Sandifer says when detectives brought Moore in for an interview, he admitted to posting the videos.
“Based off of his words and his actions in those videos, our troopers secured an arrest warrant and actually charged him with cyberstalking and terrorizing,” Sandifer said.
In the videos, Moore also makes threats like “I don’t know you, dude, but I’m stepping for you…cause y’all wrong for that.” Sandifer says this was in reference to the Alton Sterling shooting.
“His words were quite clear in what his actions were going to be, and he threatened violence through those words, and some of it was in possible retaliation to the Baton Rouge police shooting,” Sandifer said.
Each of the families of the three fallen Baton Rouge police officers will receive $250-thousand from the Law Enforcement Officers and Firemen’s Survivors Fund. Attorney General Jeff Landry is the chairman of the fund’s review board. He says each child of the officers will receive $25-thousand and the chance to attend college.
“There’s also a separate statute that will grant the children of those slain officers the ability to attend any public university in Louisiana tuition free,” Landry said.
Landry says nothing can replace their lost loved ones, but this will hopefully help to bring them some financial relief. He says they should receive lump sum checks in just a few weeks, once they get all the documents from the courts and police.
“Once those documents are received and ORM reviews them, they’ll approve it, we’ll call another meeting, and the checks will be issued immediately thereafter,” Landry said.
Landry says he called a special meeting of the board to get these benefits to the families as soon as possible.
“We felt that it was necessary to call a special meeting- we weren’t scheduled to meet again until October- to move those benefits forward,” Landry said.
Many Saints fans are expected to make their way to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where the Black and Gold are holding training camp today. The region was hit with devastating flooding about a month ago, but Kristy Godby with the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the area has recovered.
“It’s not still flooded, and we are still here, and we really hope you come down and visit us, but sometimes in people’s heads that’s all they think of is the floods,” Godby said.
Godby says the Greenbrier Hotel and all the hotels in nearby Lewisburg are open and ready to welcome fans. She says there’s lots of good food in the area and plenty to do after the practices.
“There’s good shopping in downtown Lewisburg. It’s just a really nice walkable little town for everybody to spend some time in. We’ve got some caves. We’ve got some hiking trails at the Greenbrier State Forest,” Godby said.
This is the third year the Saints have held their camp at the Greenbrier, and Godby says they expect this year to be bigger and better than the previous years. She says attendees should prepare to have a lot of fun.
“It’s such a unique experience to be able to be that close to NFL players. If you haven’t been, you don’t realize just how close you are,” Godby said.
LSU Football Coach Les Miles hits on a variety of topics during his annual speech before the Baton Rouge Rotary Club. State Police Col. Mike Edmonson, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, and Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie were in attendance and Coach Les Miles talked openly about the tragic shooting of three law enforcement officers and had this to say about the shooter.
“We have a special place here and we don’t want to lose it. We certainly don’t want some son of a ----, son of somebody from another city, I do know the name of the city and I do know the name of the dumb ass, but I want you to know he does not define us. That man he had his own agenda, his agenda was militaristic. Let me tell you something, he died in anonymity to me.”
Miles also hit on some light hearted topics, including reliving some of his childhood memories. The Mad Hatter talked about the day he was beat up by his elementary school bully, Bobby Piper, who kept stealing his lunch money.
“Bobby Piper comes up to me and says okay give me the money and I said no, he says you know what’s going to happen now right. I can tell you I didn’t throw a punch. And he went pow and I went thunk and I land on the ground. He takes my shoes off, throws them in the water and in my vinyl jacket, he shoves me in the ditch.”
Miles commented on the status of kicker Colby Delahoussaye, who was in a tragic car accident in Wisconsin where two people died. He says the senior from New Iberia will have to go through rehabilitation, but his injuries won’t threaten his football career.
“But I don’t think his injuries are going to consume his time so he’ll take some time to get healthy but he’ll be fine. Obviously he’s been through some real trauma.”
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said the dialogue has to change about shootings involving police. Normand made the statement, after one of his deputies shot 17-year-old Devon Martes on Tuesday night where Martes’s gun misfired when he tried to shoot the deputy after a brief chase. Normand says his deputy, David Dalton, is lucky to be alive.
“Devon Martes is not the victim. Devon Martes pulled the trigger on the gun and tried to kill one of my officers. But for the fact that the gun malfunctioned, I might have a dead officer,” Normand said.
Normand says the deputy faced off with Martez after the suspect was caught stealing tire rims. He showed pictures from Martes’ Facebook of him holding a gun and drugs and listed off highlights from the suspect’s rap sheet.
“At age 14 distribution of schedule I narcotics, plead guilty. At age 15 armed robbery, plead guilty. At age 16 criminal trespass, plead guilty,” Normand said.
Normand says that he keeps hearing that we need to develop trust between police and the public, but he says trust is a two way street. He says it’s bilateral, not unilateral.
“The dialogue that I’m hearing is that government actors are the ones who need to do all the reaching out. I keep hearing that we have to go back to community policing. I didn’t know that we abandoned it,” Normand said.
State Police have arrested a Catholic Priest in St. Martin Parish on child pornography charges. Trooper Brooks David says the Special Victims Unit received a complaint alleging that a computer belonging to Father Felix David Broussard contained disturbing images of juveniles.
“Our investigative unit started looking into that complaint and during that investigation located over 500 images of child pornography,” David said.
David says the 50-year-old Priest was placed under arrest and booked into the St. Martin Parish jail on 500 counts of child pornography. He says their investigation into Father Broussard’s criminal behavior continues.
“Our investigators are going to keep looking into this case until they are sure that there’s nothing else that they need to go further with,” David said.
The Diocese of Lafayette says they take these allegations very seriously and is cooperating fully with the investigation. Father Broussard has been placed on administrative leave and will not be allowed to preach at St. Bernard Parish. David says Broussard could spend a long time in jail, if convicted.
“It’s a felony, and you’re looking at over 500 counts so it’s a severe punishment. That would be up to the Justice Department to look at that and decide the punishment,” David said.
The 2014 viral phenomenon known as the “Ice Bucket Challenge” actually led to a scientific breakthrough towards finding a cure for ALS. Director of the ALS Association of Louisiana, Kelly Viator, says awareness attributes to dollars raised.
“From those dollars the ALS Association was able to contribute $1 million to Project MinE, which is the lead in this effort,” Viator said.
Through those donations, Project MinE has identified a gene that’s connected to the disease, which will help develop new targeted therapy to treat ALS. Viator says all the small donations can make a big difference.
“Every dollar counts. More specifically as it relates to Ice Bucket, every drop adds up,” Viator said.
An estimated 15 million people took the challenge, raising more than $115 million for ALS research. Viator says as effective as the Ice Bucket Challenge was, she doesn’t see it being repeated anytime soon.
“It was organic. It wasn’t anything that was created. It just happened naturally, and as hard as many people have tried to create something like that, it just won’t happen,” Viator said.
We are starting to see more endorsements in the U.S. Senate race. Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer is officially backing State Treasurer John Kennedy and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain has endorsed Congressman Charles Boustany.
Political Analyst Clancy Dubos says Strain being a current statewide elected official will be beneficial to Boustany.
“Boustany is mostly known in southwest Louisiana whereas Strain comes from the Florida Parishes, very well-known and very popular in the rural areas, that’s a significant endorsement.”
Dubos says endorsements do help when the field is this crowded with 24 candidates in the race. He says although Roemer’s endorsement helps Kennedy, he has been out of politics since 1992.
“So his endorsement probably doesn’t mean as much and he is the person who brought Kennedy into the political game so it’s not a surprise. It certainly helps but I don’t think it contributes as much.”
Outgoing Senator David Vitter has yet to make an official endorsement for his seat but Dubos says it’s obvious who he supports.
“All indications right now are that he’s behind Kennedy. A lot of his key staff people are already with Kennedy. I think there is already a pretty big signal out there that Vitter is backing Kennedy.”
Louisiana ranks second for the number of police officers killed in the line of duty this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. President and CEO, Craig Floyd, says seven Louisiana officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2016. He says we need to have more respect for our officers.
“We need to appreciate the fact that these men and women are out there serving and protecting, putting their lives at risk every day for our safety and our protection,” Floyd said.
Four of the officer deaths were by gunfire, two by vehicular assault, and one in a car accident. The report shows firearms related fatalities spiked 78% nationwide this year. Floyd says police officers interact with the public 62 million times a year, most of the time without incident.
“Of those 62 million contacts between the police and the public, force is either used or threatened by police less than 2% of the time,” Floyd said.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is working to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the public. Floyd says officers have better equipment and better training than they used to. He says more officers are using fewer lethal weapon and choosing items like Tasers to detain suspects, which gives them options other than kill or be killed.
“Taser stun guns have been proved to reduce the injuries to officers and to the criminal suspects that they deal with dramatically,” Floyd said.