Sheriff’s Cop-of-Tea program wins praise

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 27, 2004


Staff Reporter


Staff Reporter

BATON ROUGE – The Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs said Wednesday it was so impressed with Sheriff Wayne L. Jones” “Cop-of-Tea” program that starting January 2005, it will introduce the concept to the Council on Aging in surrounding parishes, in an effort to advance the program statewide.

Program Specialist Michelle T. Guillory with the State of Louisiana Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs said she began orchestrating a January meeting to introduce the new program after speaking with Executive Director Godfrey White. The Council on Aging from surrounding parishes will be invited to attend the meeting.

“I will be kicking off the concept. We will discuss hurdles and obstacles that we need to overcome in implementing the program in parishes throughout the state. We will direct the Council on Aging to coordinate a partnership with their Sheriff’s Office and/or Police Department,” said Guillory.

Guillory added, “I am to link individuals together. My department aids and assists by researching grant provisions provided through philanthropy. I will try to secure grants for the program from independent companies and organizations.”

The new “Cop-of-Tea'” program is a brainchild created by Jones to increase law enforcement visibility within the parish. It was recently implemented in St. John the Baptist Parish by the Sheriff’s Office and operates with the Council on Aging and Community Action to support senior citizens and shut-ins.

Jones hired additional deputies to patrol the streets. While making their normal patrol, the officers stop in and talk with senior citizens and shut-ins. During the brief visits, the deputies say hello and listen to concerns senior citizens may have about their health, their home or a criminal activity. If a particular concern surfaces, the officer writes the problem down and reports it to his commander. The commander relates the problem to the Sheriff’s public relations office and then on to the community action agency.

“This project has great potential. It creates a wonderful environment for the community. I definitely want to see it expand and grow. Therefore, I will make every effort to unite partners for this extremely worthwhile project,” said Guillory.

Guillory believes the Sheriff’s program is also going to assist in reducing crime statistics.

“I will review crime stats in one year. I know already I will see a reduction. This program is going to greatly reduce mischievousness,” said Guillory.

The Cop-of-Tea program will also assist elderly citizens living alone in distant rural environments, declared Guillory. “I am interested in assisting the seniors. When a deputy files a report on a senior citizen, a baseline is produced. The report shows where the individual was a month ago and where he/she is now. New health problems are flagged. This is a good administration tool.”

Promoting the concept of volunteering and the need to partnership, Cop-of-Tea teaches a community to take ownership of itself, asserted Guillory. She said, “That’s what the deputies and the Sheriff did in St. John Parish. This is what we must do to crack down on crime.”

Guillory explained that the novel concept to the program is that it requires no money to start operation. She maintained a parish can use law enforcement already available and emphasized there is no need to wait before organizing the program.

“Money will not always be there. This is a program that only requires resourcefulness. Instead of waiting, just do it,” said Guillory. “To me it’s a win-win for constituents, as well as for the various cooperating departments.”

“I believe it would be a really good idea if Leroy Mitchell, (a public relations employee with the Sheriff’s Office) joins me at the next the Louisiana Sheriffs Associations meeting to introduce the Cop-of-Tea program,” said Guillory. “Mitchell’s background in the program makes him a resourceful and valuable tool in the project.”

Mitchell will attend the January meeting to be held in East Baton Rouge Parish. He will help Guillory in presenting the program.