Police Chief Mizzi responds

Police Chief "enforcing every law I can enforce."

Arnaudville Chief of Police Richard Mizzi told The Teche News he is already requiring patrols by his officers every 30 minutes in the vicinity of Harry’s Deli, Grocery and Bar, and that he will work with Sheriff Bobby Guidroz to determine the best way to address concerns voiced by citizens about goings-on at the establishment. However, a lot of those goings-on, especially the loitering, may be outside his and the sheriff’s authority, Mizzi said.

He explained that the parking lot at Harry’s is private property and that loitering or drinking on private property is not an illegal offense. Neither is sleeping at a table inside a bar.

The comment about sleeping at a table was in reference to remarks made by an Arnaudville alderman at their April 15 meeting, which at times grew heated with the continuing debate about activities in and outside the business at 398 Main Highway in Arnaudville.

Neither can he enforce an agreement about closing time between the current owner, Jean-Claire Thibodeaux, and the main complainants, Kim Taylor and her father, Aymar Bonin.

“I am enforcing every law that I can enforce,” he said.

Chief Mizzi indicated that he would like to meet with Bonin with a neutral third party present.

A review of police logs dating back to March 14 revealed five calls involving Harry’s, he said. These included two complaints about noise, a request from an employee for the police to speak to an unruly customer who had been barred from the establishment, a report of the theft of a bottle of liquor, and a physical altercation where the victim did not want to press charges against his assailant. Mizzi pointed out that on the weekend of April 4-6, when Taylor told the Board of Aldermen that the police had been called out three times, there was only one call on record, a call from Taylor on April 4 at 6:44 p.m. about a disturbance in the parking lot. An officer was dispatched at 7:01 p.m. and the incident report shows a verbal warning was given. There was no other record of formal complaints that weekend, Mizzi said.

Chief Mizzi said his department is meticulous about keeping records of complaints, but that the ultimate responsibility lies with citizens of the town to document the abuse. Although there are occasional infractions at other establishments that serve liquor, the problems are not widespread and usually easily resolved.

In response to a suggestion that the police department budget be cut, voiced at the April 15 meeting, Mizzi stated the obvious, that it would only hurt the town and its residents. He said many of the town’s residents have not seen him chasing down drug dealers on foot after a marijuana arrest at Harry’s.

He went on to comment that the rise in complaints since the death of the previous owner, Harry Theriot, was perhaps due to the fact that Theriot had been present at his business on a regular basis. He said the young people who operate the business now are not as able to enforce problems with loitering and drinking in the parking lot.

Mizzi also noted that previously many of the residences immediately adjacent to the business were vacant.

He said Taylor, who lives across the street, mentioned to him that she and her family had actually been interested in purchasing the business, but that the deal had fallen through and that the property had been purchased by Thibodeaux after the demise of Harry Theriot.

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