Crime issues, targets discussed at Chamber’s ‘Network at Noon’ event
By: Jeannine LeJeune
CROWLEY – Tips for preventing crimes for businesses and families as well as the state of crime in the city of Crowley and Acadia Parish were the main focuses of Sheriff Wayne Melancon and Crowley Police Chief K.P. Gibson’s discussions at the Crowley Chamber of Commerce’s Network at Noon event.
The event, held Friday at The Town Club in Crowley, gave member businesses the opportunity to talk about criminal concerns they have in the community as well as gain helpful information to help prevent their businesses or families from becoming another statistic.
Melancon was the first to speak and focused his time on how crime has evolved over the years and how people can combat the ever-changing crime element in Acadia Parish.
“When I was doing research on the crime rate, I noticed that crime statistics haven’t changed much in the parish over the last few years,” he said. “But the crimes themselves have evolved. And just as society itself evolves so do the crimes and so must fighting the crimes.”
Melancon pointed out how the rural communities of Acadia Parish have been the most hit area as of late. He pointed to the vulnerability of not only the rural aspect, but the problem of leaving out expensive machinery, boats, etc.
“I’m as guilty as anyone for leaving those things out, but if we take steps to prevent these crimes and make it harder for criminals, they will not be as inclined to steal.”
Melancon suggested people, especially those in the rural communities, keep their valuables locked up and put things, like boats, in well lit areas, making it harder for criminals to sneak up and take them.
He also suggested avoiding a regular schedule or announcing to people via a message that you will be out of town for long periods of time.
Internet crimes have also been on the rise across the country as Melancon pointed out. He offered tips to help protect children from internet criminals
“A computer’s a great thing, but opening yourself up to the world can mean opening yourself up to crime possibilities,” he said. “Our children are targets.”
When Gibson spoke to the chamber, he focused on scams that attacked the elderly as well as the drug and recent increase in violent crimes.
“We are in the middle of one of the worst drug crises we’ve ever seen,” he said. “Over the past 20 years the epidemic has grown.”
Gibson pointed out that the drug problem, particularly trafficking, has evolved to become well structured and acts very much like a business, all of which are presenting more and more problems for law enforcement. He added that well over 50 percent of the city’s crimes have some root in drugs.
Gibson then turned his discussion to the growing number of scams that target mostly the elderly as well as counterfeit/washed money, which targets businesses.
“These financial scams are global, which is perhaps the hardest thing to deal with,” said Gibson. “We pass along complaints and information to the federal authorities, but there just isn’t the resources available to catch all these people that are sending information from Mexico or the U.K. and so on.”
Violent crimes have also been a problem within the city, especially in the past six months. Gibson said the growing number of young men and women unafraid of the consequences of pulling a trigger is perhaps the most alarming of the recent crime wave.
“We need to come together with this to combat it; this is something we have to stop,” he said.
Gibson concluded his talk by pointing to two very beneficial programs for the parish–Crime Stoppers and Warrant Watch. He pointed out that both have helped the city and parish and only continue to grow in importance and benefits.
The idea of communication between neighbors and keeping an eye on their property was also suggested by both Melancon and Gibson.
“You know what car, or cars, are supposed to be at your neighbor’s house, so if you think something might be suspicious, call us. We don’t mind investigating it, even if it turns out to be nothing,” said Melancon.
“Neighborhood Watch programs have evolved, now it’s most important to communicate with your neigbhors,” said Gibson. “Let them know if dad will be coming over to feed the animals or water the plants while your gone, that way they know who they should expect to see and who they shouldn’t.”
The importance of not sharing personal information was also addressed by both Gibson and Melancon as the numbers rise in identity theft cases as well as with children releasing information about themselves online.
Both men pointed to their websites as great tools for the community filled with tips to prevent many crimes, safety tips as well as features that allow visitors to find out about registered sex offenders in their area and other crimes in the area. Visit http://apso.org/ for more information from the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office and www.crowleypolice.com for more information from the Crowley Police Department.