March 22, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck
Hurricane Rita did a number on Jeff Davis Parish, ripping through the Lake Arthur Police Station. The extensive damage forced city officials to close the jail and work out of a temporary location.
"We still continued to write tickets the only problem was there was no place to put them because we were working out of a double wide trailer with no jail... No cells at all," explained Lake Arthur Police Chief Cheryl Vincent.
Vincent says officers wrote lots of tickets, mainly because folks knew they would not face time behind bars. "We had a problem with arresting the same people for the same thing. The town people were frustrated and so were we. We just had no place to put them," said Vincent.
Most of the tickets issued were for misdemeanors. When the jail finally reopened last November the city had more than 500 outstanding bench warrants to serve. Chief Vincent says the jail is now reopened and has plenty of vacancies and is more than prepared to take reservations.
"We can now arrest them for fighting or whatever, now they have to bond out. And if they can't bond out, they are going to stay with us," said Vincent.
Vincent says they have collected on nearly half of the outstanding debts and says it's just a matter of time before they catch up with the others. "It's in your best interest to come and take care of it. Give us a call, take care of your bench warrant. If not, when we meet up with you, we'll pick you up -- and it will be pay or stay," warns Vincent.