Sheriff wants permit process revisited

By Paige Nash

Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker stopped by the Webster Parish Police Jury’s (WPPJ) meeting on Tuesday, August 1, to put their heads together regarding tweaking and refining the current Special Event Permit process. 

According to Parker, approximately two weeks ago deputies were dispatched to Harold Montgomery Road in Doyline, where an unpermitted “trail ride” was taking place.  

“We sent deputies down there and there were over 1,000 people. Major Hayden and Major Krouse had to respond because a 19-year-old female had passed out,” said Parker. “They described it as going in there with lights on and they wouldn’t even pay them any attention. They were just stepping over this girl.” 

Currently, if a special event is going to consist of 250 or less, a permit is not required. 

The Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office (WPSO) was informed of the event and told there would be no more than 250 in attendance. If a special event is going to have more than 250 in attendance, the host is required to complete the permit process, hire an ambulance service and security.  

“You had security out there who had police vests on, but there is no telling who the security was out there. They had no jurisdiction to wear ‘police’ in my parish,” said Parker. 

According to Parker, after entering the “trail ride” and monitoring the situation, there were only 12 horses on the premises. The WPSO shut down the event and Parker said that the gentlemen responsible for hosting the event will be held responsible. 

“That guy that put on this event, he is going to have to come up here and answer to me at some point. He may get a ticket for violating a permit or something,” said Parker. 

WPPJ Jim Bonsall asked Parker how they could improve the permit process in the future to guarantee this type of situation does not occur again and if it does, how they should be penalized.  

“When we issue this ticket, you are looking at 300-400 dollars,” said Parker. “We do not want to discourage anybody from having a good time, going out and celebrating. It is just that groups like the ones we had on Harold Montgomery Road two weeks ago are what ruins it for everybody. Public safety is very important to me.” 

Parker referenced a past event at Bayou Speedway where more than 40 guns were confiscated. This group plans to host another event in the upcoming weeks and have yet to apply for a permit taking them outside of the 45-day notice required to receive the permit.  

Most of these events are advertised through social media channels making it impossible to determine exactly how many people will be in attendance.  

“I am just going to have to assign a deputy with a counter and they will be there before they open the gates and as soon as 250 pass that line, we are shutting down the road,” said Parker.  

The WPSO and WPPJ are going to continue evaluating the current permit process and where there may be room for improvement.