Sheriff stepping up patrols at local shopping centers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011



LAPLACE – Friday marks the traditional beginning of the holiday shopping season, and the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office said it will have an increased presence around major shopping centers in LaPlace.

Capt. Dane Clement, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said deputies will be out and about starting Friday at 5 a.m. at both the Wal-Mart and Home Depot shopping centers, which experience the bulk of the holiday shopping traffic.

“Shoppers will see an increase in patrol units, as well as some additional deputies on foot,” Clement said. “The extra patrols will be out until 1 a.m. so that residents can feel safe shopping at all hours of the day.”

In addition to extra patrols, Clement also said the Sheriff’s Office will once again be manning mobile command units at both of the major shopping centers along Airline Highway. He said the additional presence will remain in effect through the end of the year.

“The command units will go online every evening until the stores close,” Clement said. “The units have been very successful in helping us limit the number of incidents during the holidays. We have been lucky in the fact that the past few years have been quiet.”

The command unit at the Wal-Mart shopping area will include the Sheriff’s Office’s elevated camera unit affectionately known as “Big Brother,” a unit purchased in 2006 to offer a better perspective of the busy parking lot area.

“The device is elevated 30 feet in the air, and has 360 degree range,” Clement said. “It takes still photos and can save video for up to 72 hours. It catches the things we may not see on the ground.”

Clement said sheriff’s officials understand most residents can only do their shopping in the evening, and the office wants to ensure that residents feel safer while out shopping.

“We just want to encourage folks to shop locally and feel comfortable doing it,” Clement said. “We have not had excessive issues in the past, and we want to keep it that way.”