By Bonnie Culverhouse
Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker said it well when he told Minden Lions Thursday, “We are busy, but we are blessed.”
“Between (deputy) Chief Hank Haynes, CID, all our patrol guys, all my administrative staff, we are very busy,” Parker added. “But we are very blessed to be serving the citizens of Webster Parish.”
Parker went on to say, the sheriff’s department in Webster Parish is celebrating 150 years in existence. One hundred forty-five employees serve about 38,000 parish citizens covering around 615 square miles on an annual budget of $15 million.
“I am currently the sixteenth sheriff and very honored to be that,” he said.
Parker spent some time remembering the two deputies lost to the department in the past few months.
“Billy Collins – never to be forgotten – he served with me for 11 years with the sheriff’s office at BDCC (Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center) as one of my supervisors out there,” Parker said. “He did a very good job.”
A 15-year employee, Deputy Trey Copeland, who also worked at BDCC, died after a high-speed chase in his part-time position as a Cotton Valley Police Officer.
“Both were doing what they love to do,” he said. “They loved coming to work for the sheriff’s office, and representing us at BDCC, then serving their communities more.”
When Collins was killed in the line of duty, working part time as a Doyline Police Officer, Parker faced the most difficult job – notifying the family.
“I turned around, and there were hundreds of law enforcement officers all over,” he said. “The one person I asked to drive me to that location to notify Billy’s family: Trey Copeland. That man drove me to that location. Then three months later, he died following that chase. Tragic, tragic situation.”
Parker has implemented a Pastoral Patrol Program.
“It’s been a great lesson for us,” he said. “We’ve had 10 to 12 pastors from all over the parish that have become part of our family at the sheriff’s office. They ride with our deputies. They are there for emotional and psychological support.”
Over the last year, WPSO units have made the following arrests and seizures within the parish:
Arrested more than 125 narcotic dealers/users;
Seized 9 vehicles including one 18-wheeler;
Seized 12 pounds of Methamphetamines with a street value of more than $600,000;
Seized approximately 48 pounds of Marijuana with a street value of more than $30,000; and,
Seized approximately 25,726 illegal prescription pills valued at around $110,000
There has been a special arrest of a man scamming the elderly and infirmed. The individual was arrested with warrants in parishes and counties as far as Tennessee.
“My Sex Crimes Unit has made approximately 15 sex crime child-related cases, which involved one individual being arrested on charges of four counts of Distribution of Child Pornography and one count of Possession of Child Pornography,” Parker said. “This person was in possession of 52,560 files. He was labeled as Louisiana’s number one top Child Pornography downloader.”
The sheriff also updated Lions’ members concerning the possible move of the women’s jail to a facility at Camp Minden.
“We are still waiting on a contract with the National Guard,” he said. “But we’ve found the perfect building with all the infrastructure in place.”
Other subjects covered included (parish) animal control and school resource officers, which have been very beneficial to the schools.
The sheriff’s motto (he’s having a sign made) is for his deputies, but it is applicable to the community they serve.
“Make a difference,” he said.
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