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Law Enforcement Gets Training on Animal Abuse Investigations
USA Today Network | True Talk

Law enforcement and others working in criminal justice from Central Louisiana gathered in Alexandria Thursday for training on animal abuse investigations and prosecutions.

Both Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton and District Attorney Phillip Terrell had expressed interest in having the training, said Leigh Anne Wall, victim services attorney for the Louisiana District Attorneys Association, which co-sponsored the training.

New Orleans DA's Office Investigator Chad Stokes Honored With Beyond the Badge Award

An investigator from the New Orleans District Attorney’s office was so disturbed by a news story during the holidays last year, he took it upon himself to restore a family’s holiday cheer.

On December 14, 2018, Investigator Chad Stokes saw a local TV news story that greatly disturbed him. A man with six children woke up that morning to find that his Christmas lights display had been stolen from his home in the upper Ninth Ward in New Orleans.

Investigator Chad Stokes and a colleague purchased a variety of replacement lights and decorations with their own money.

They located the home that had been featured in the news report about the theft, and delivered the new Christmas lights and decorations to the homeowner and his children by 9 a.m. the next day.

Needless to say, the family was overjoyed to discover that Investigator Stokes had once again decked the halls!

United States Attorney Announces Violent Crime Reduction in Northeast Louisiana | myarklamiss.com
MONROE, La. - (2/25/19) United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced today that the crime rates in Monroe have dropped in the wake of collaborative efforts to reduce violent crime.

Violent crime rates have dropped from a peak in 2016 of 1,493 offenses to 830 offenses in 2018.  That is more than a 44 percent drop in the violent crime rate over a two-year period.  The homicide rate has also dropped from 18 in 2015 to six last year – a 66 percent decline in Monroe’s homicide rate.  

This reduction in Monroe’s 2018 violent crime rate corresponds with U.S Attorney Joseph’s focus on federal violent crime prosecutions and collaboration with District Attorney Tew’s office to jointly identify and prosecute the most violent offenders.  

In the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana has prosecuted well over 200 defendants throughout the district for
firearm related offenses, including felons and drug dealers in possession of firearms – more than 60 of which have been in the Monroe area.  These prosecutions represent approximately three times the number of such cases as were brought in previous years.

The 2018 decline reverses a sharp rise in violent crime that peaked in 2015 and 2016 in the Monroe area.  Law enforcement’s efforts to stem this rise in crime have involved local, state and federal law enforcement working together on a daily basis to share information and support one another in the fight against violent crime.  Among other measures, the U.S. Attorney’s Office brought in two new prosecutors last year to specifically focus their efforts on violent crime.  

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has contributed to the effort by assigning a prosecutor in Monroe to work as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in Joseph’s office and provide assistance in the prosecution of violent offenders.

“I am pleased to announce that the trend of rising crime in Monroe and Northeast Louisiana has been reversed,” Joseph stated.  “Crime rates are dropping in the Monroe area and, as a result, Monroe is safer now than it has been at any time in the recent past. One of my priorities as U.S. Attorney is to make our communities safer by substantially increasing violent crime arrests and prosecutions in the Western District."

“The safety and well-being of our citizens is a vital part of our mission,” said ATF New Orleans Field Division Special Agent in Charge Dana Nichols. “ATF, in partnership with the United States Attorney, the Louisiana Attorney General and other Federal, state and local law enforcement partners will continue to focus our investigative resources on arresting and prosecuting the most violent criminals who use firearms to terrorize our communities and on those individuals who supply firearms to this criminal element. Through the utilization of our Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGIC), and National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), we will provide leads to investigators to help identify these criminals to further reduce crime. Protecting neighborhoods from violent crime is a priority for the citizens of Monroe and ATF.”

District Attorney Expands Victims’ Rights, Advocacy Divisions | www.houmatoday.com
Lafourche Parish District Attorney Kristine Russell is continuing to make changes in the parish’s legal office to further proactive efforts against criminal activity.

Russell spoke to the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce today about new programs implemented in 2018 and the challenges still facing the parish.

Last year, Russell was elected to fill the remaining term of former District Attorney Cam Morvant, who stepped down from the position due to health concerns. The term expires in 2020.

Since the election, the District Attorney’s Office has revitalized the Victim’s Assistance Division to provide individualized resources to crime victims in the parish, people often on the lowest tier in the criminal justice system. The “people first, system second” model aims to guide victims through the system. That includes notifying victims of when hearings or trials will be held, giving support during testimony and providing access to domestic abuse resources.

Russell has also expanded the pre-trial intervention program, extended to first-time offenders as an alternative to jail time. Participants are assessed individually and assigned certain criteria to meet before their charges are dismissed. That can take six months or a year, Russell said.

With the state pushing justice reinvestment initiatives, but unable to pay for programs to benefit them, the parish has stepped in.
“The great thing about it is if you have a 17-year-old or an 18-year-old who gets pulled over with a joint, and again it’s a crime, but instead of giving them a criminal record that affects their TWIC card or whatever else they want to go out and do in the world, they won’t have that on their record if they successfully complete our program,” Russell said.

Through identifying any underlying issues that led to the charge, the division’s staff can tailor the conditions for each offender.
“If we can 
get first time offenders early and hopefully provide services to them, like some life skills, then maybe they’ll never re-offend and we won’t have to talk about incarceration or jail or anything else,” Russell said. “You would never get that in our court system.”
Since the program began in 2017, only five of the 83 participants have re-offended, she said.

“The program is working,” Russell said.

The intervention program falls in line with the office’s goal to be proactive against habitual offenses. The parish’s drug court currently has 80 participants but is looking to expand, Russell said.

The office is also working on ways to incorporate more mental health treatment into the judicial system.

Mental health problems are often an underlying factor of many major crimes, she said.

As sex trafficking continues to be a major threat on the national and state level, the office is utilizing a forensic interviewer with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Lafourche to meet with possible victims.

While sex trafficking in one form or another has been seen in Lafourche Parish, it’s not on the same scale as in other areas of the state.

The Children’s Advocacy Center is also expanding this year, adding a counseling center next door to the office in downtown Thibodaux.

The center works with possible victims of physical and sexual abuse. When an incident is reported, the victim is taken to the center for a single interview that is recorded and used to prepare a case for trial, preventing the victim from having to go through multiple interviews with multiple agencies.

So far this year, the center has held 19 forensic interviews with possible victims. The center interviewed a record number of nearly 250 last year, Russell said.

Despite the increase in interviews, Russell said she believes there is not
anincreases in cases but an increase in the number of children reporting abuse.