DONALDSONVILLE — In an effort to slow an unusual spike in criminal behavior in the parish seat, Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies will slow things down when patrolling local streets.
Capt. Rick Bergeron, who oversees the sheriff’s Westside Division, told the City Council on Tuesday that his department is taking a more proactive approach in making its rounds.
“We’re slow-rolling through neighborhoods and subdivisions,” Bergeron said. “They’ve been told that if they’re going 5 mph, they’re going too fast.”
Bergeron said officers, including himself and his four lieutenants, will leave their cruisers more often to speak to residents they see on the streets.
The shift comes amid a rash of violent crimes in what is a usually quiet city on the parish’s west bank.
Deputies also will focus more on enforcing traffic violations, Bergeron said.
The council also addressed an admitted lack of action in demolishing buildings in major disrepair.
The Rev. Charles Brown Sr., a member of the council, cited the former Wishing Well bar building on Lessard Street — which has been in major disrepair for years — as an example of such structures.
“The landowner next to this property is trying to fix up his property, but he can’t because this building is hovering over his land,” Brown said. “I’d be upset if I was him.”
Councilman Emile Spano also expressed his frustration with the lack of action in having such structures removed, especially in his district.
“I’ve been fighting this for eight years,” Spano said. “The system we have in place doesn’t work. Nothing gets done. We’re not doing our job.”
Councilmen cited reasons ranging from being too compassionate with owners to having to go through entities such as its Historic District Commission as reasons demolition orders have been delayed or even forgotten.
The council voted 4-0 to begin its demolition process on the Wishing Well building, with Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin absent from the meeting.