Jones has major plans for St. John law enforcement

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones took a couple of days off to start the week.

He figured he deserved it after waging a political campaign in recent months to get re-elected, something that happened with ease on Saturday when he got 63 percent of the vote, defeating the lone opponent in Steve Guidry.

That puts Jones back in office for the next four years, adding to the past three terms he has served.

But even though he took a couple of days off to catch his breath after the campaign, Jones said he has some big projects that he will add to the programs he has already established since becoming sheriff 12 years ago.

&#8220I know what we are trying to accomplish here, and I’m humbled by the election, seeing that people voted in those numbers. But I don’t see it as a victory for Wayne Jones, I see it as a victory for the parish since I can continue to add to the programs we have here for St. John,” he said.

Jones, who has overseen a growing parish where FBI statistics show overall crime has dropped 4 percent over the last 11 years even with the population growth, believes the continued addition of deputies on the streets is the starting point to continuing that trend.

&#8220We will continue to add officers to the streets, and in particular have a $1 million addition of tax money that will allow us to add 20 deputies by early next year. And most of those deputies will be on the streets keeping a high visibility,” he said.

&#8220Right now my energy level is as strong as it was 12 years ago, and my goal is to keep this community safe and clean,” he said. &#8220We have a challenge with new people coming here, so we’re coming up with new ways to keep crime to a low level.”

One innovative addition that Jones said will soon be seen is using increasing video technology to help.

&#8220We got $150,000 in a Homeland Security grant to help us purchase seven crime cameras that will be set up in key areas to record,” he said. &#8220Some of them will be visible and others will not.”

He said the Sheriff’s Office will have to pay the $30,000 annual maintenance for the cameras, but he believes they will be a deterrent to crime.

&#8220Some people will just stay out of the area when they know the cameras are there,” he said. &#8220And other areas will catch crime if it happens.”

He also expects to have traffic cameras located on &#8220every stop light on Airline Highway” in LaPlace to stop some of those who run red lights.

&#8220I’ve been sitting at a light, and it changes to red, but I see two or three cars go through,” he said. &#8220That’s causing a lot of accidents and these cameras should help reduce that.”

He said the cameras will take a picture of any vehicle that runs a red light, and get their license plate.

One of his most ambitious projects expected to be finished in the new term will be a juvenile correction facility here in LaPlace. Jones said that FEMA will soon be replacing the roof on the Sheriff’s Office main building just off Airline Highway, and they will build four separate dormitory style buildings behind the facility to house prisoners during the construction. Then his office will be allowed to purchase the four buildings for 10 cents on the dollar.

&#8220That will give us four dormitories that can house up to 50 people, and we can finally have a juvenile correction facility right here, where we have needed one for a long time,” he said.

Even though an attack on Jones was begun all the way in January with billboards saying &#8220No Jones” for Sheriff in 2007, then followed by other attack ads, Jones never responded to them in his own advertising.

&#8220I don’t think people like that kind of campaigning,” he said. &#8220It was evidenced in the vote. But you always have people want to start by making personal attacks on me, and I’m used to that.

&#8220Politics 101 says that you should always begin campaigning by selling yourself in a positive way. My opponents never did that. They just wanted to attack me personally,’ he said. &#8220But it’s obvious from the vote that people are comfortable with what they have here.”