IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Candidates for Cameron Parish sheriff

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Candidates for Cameron Parish sheriff
With the Oct. 12 election just around the corner, we asked the candidates for Cameron sheriff why they are running and what makes them the best candidate. (Source: KPLC)

CAMERON PARISH, La. (KPLC) - With the Oct. 12 election just around the corner, we asked the candidates for Cameron sheriff why they are running and what makes them the best candidate.

Mike Hebert (R) and incumbent Ron Johnson (R) are on the ballot.

For more on what’s on your ballot, click HERE.

For more on the election, visit kplctv.com/politics.elections

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF (Education, career, previous elected positions, family, etc.):

MICHAEL HEBERT: I was raised in Grand Lake and my parents are Robert and Sandra Hebert. I am married to Kelly Nunez Hebert. We have two children and two grandchildren. My father-in-law was the late Leroy Nunez and my mother-in-law is Hattie Skidmore Nunez Morales.

In 1982, I began my law enforcement career with the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office where I served Cameron Parish for 13 years.

In 1995, I joined the Louisiana State Police and after five months of extensive training, I became a Louisiana State Trooper. I retired after serving over 23 years with the Louisiana State Police in order to seek the office of Cameron Parish Sheriff.

I have over 36 years of Law Enforcement experience.

I am a graduate of the following professional law enforcement academies: • Southwest Regional Training Academy • LSU Law Enforcement Institute Academy • FBI National Academy • Louisiana State Police Training Academy • I have approximately 5000 hours of specialized law enforcement training. I am a Christian, Pro-Life, and a Conservative.

RON JOHNSON: I am a 1972 Graduate of South Cameron High School and attended Sowela Technical School. I’m married to Mary Conner Johnson, of Creole. We have two children: Amanda (registered nurse), who is married to Brandon Blanchard (nurse practitioner) and has three children, and Jacob Johnson (chief felony prosecutor at the Calcasieu District Attorney’s Office), who is married to Ashley (human resource supervisor) and has one child. I joined the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office in 1989 and have held the positions of Corrections Officer, Patrolman, Investigator, Supervisor, Crash Reconstruction Officer, D.A.R.E. Officer, Grant Writer, Programs Director, Chief Investigator and Chief Deputy.

I was elected Sheriff of Cameron Parish in 2011 with six opponents and again in 2015 with two opponents. I was a member of Cameron Volunteer Fire Department for 30 years and was the Chief for 17 of those years. I served on Cameron Water Works Board as Vice President, Cameron Rec Board as President, Cameron Parish Lions Club as Vice President and President and currently am a multi-decade active member. I served on the Livestock Committee Board, as a Boy Scout Leader, and a softball coach. I also currently on the board of Grand Lake Fire Department.

I support all Cameron Parish Schools and many community fundraisers for the benefit of our children. I also contribute to all festivals and church fundraising events and have done so all throughout the years. I believe a Sheriff should be community minded in all years not just election years.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO ENTER THE RACE FOR SHERIFF OR CONTINUE YOUR DUTIES AS THE CURRENT SHERIFF?

MICHAEL HEBERT: I have been training and preparing myself for this opportunity for years. I have thought about running for Sheriff the past couple of election, but the timing was not right. I’m running for Sheriff because of my passion to serve and help others. My sincerest desire is to provide Cameron Parish citizens with what they most deserve, the very best from their deputies. I am convinced that my 36 years of training and experience has prepared me for this opportunity. I sincerely believe it is the right time and I am more than ready and qualified to be Sheriff.

RON JOHNSON: Because of my experience at this time of need in Cameron Parish. We are going through a construction phase. During this time the need for law enforcement is raised to a higher level and the industrial taxes are very low. Cameron Parish needs a Sheriff with the experience to handle the business end of the Sheriff’s Department to get us through these tough financial times until our industrial taxes start coming in. I have proven that I have been able to accomplish just that these past seven years.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES YOU THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR THIS POSITION?

MICHAEL HEBERT: During my 36 years in Law Enforcement, I had the opportunity to serve in every aspect of policing. I have acquired approximately 5,000 hours of specialized training, including supervision and management. I am a graduate of the LSU Law Enforcement Institute for Supervision and Management and I am the only Cameron Parish resident to have attended and graduated from the FBI National Academy.

RON JOHNSON: I have over 5,000 hours of Law Enforcement, Leadership, and Administrative training. This includes FBI Executive Management, National Sheriff Association classes in many categories and Louisiana Sheriff Association training. I have been certified in all types of investigation and Patrol techniques. These include everything from murder to misdemeanor crimes. I also have very many hours of Crime Scene and Interview training with the experience of putting this training to use. I have the experience of serving Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office for 30 years. Seven years as Sheriff, eight years as Chief Deputy. Living and working in Cameron parish for all of my adult life and part of my childhood, I know the people of Cameron Parish. I understand their needs because I am and have been a Cameron Parish citizen. My experience did not come from working for another agency nor living and working in another Parish. I’ve been here through the hurricanes, the clean up, the rebuilding of our homes and now the industrial construction phase.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PRIMARY GOALS SHOULD YOU BE ELECTED OR RE-ELECTED? WHAT SPECIFIC CHANGE(S) WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE?

MICHAEL HEBERT:

• During my campaign the majority of people I came into contact with told me that they were concerned about the drug epidemic - especially the “crystal meth” occurring in Cameron Parish. Crystal meth is an increasing problem and is the drug of choice for many. I have a solid plan which has been tried and tested. We will dedicate all resources and work relentlessly to ensure we keep our parish safe and secure from drugs. This will be one of my highest priorities.

• Create an Internal Affairs position to ensure that department policy and procedures are followed and our deputies operate within the boundaries of the law. Every complainant or victim of a crime will be contacted to make certain their needs were met.

• I will implement a promotional/ranking system based on merit. I will also provide leadership, management, and educational training to develop future leaders.

• Implement a fair and impartial pay plan for all employees.

• I will provide advanced investigative training opportunities especially having a deputy certified in computer forensics with the capability of extracting digital evidence from electronic devices.

• I will invest and apply for Grant Money for new equipment, and improve technology to protect our children from child predators, child pornography, sex trafficking, and cyber-bullying.

• I will implement a Senior Citizen Awareness Program where a Representative of the Sheriff’ Office will contact and check on the Senior Citizen participants’ well-being in each community of Cameron Parish. If the participant does not answer the phone, our Dispatcher will notify a patrol deputy in the area to check on that individual.

• I will implement a Youth Development Program where we assist our youth in dealing with today’s issues that are being faced by our younger generation such as suicide, cyber-bulling, child abuse/ neglect, personal safety and youth violence.

RON JOHNSON: The primary goals of any Sheriff is outlined by his duties. This consists of being the Chief Law Enforcement Agency of the Parish, The Tax Collector, maintaining dispatch, 911 in Cameron Parish, criminal records, and a civil department. Many of my goals have been accomplished in the last seven years but I still have many more.

Besides all these primary duties we have managed to make many changes that resulted in improvements in the Sheriff’s Office and the Parish, including technological advancements that include new computers and software for all departments, an up-to-date patrol camera system that includes G.P.S. tracking. We now also have Body Cameras and computers for all of our detectives and patrol staff.

We have added five female corrections officers to our staff. We are now in an up-to-date jail that keeps prisoners more secure and helps us tend to their needs much better.

We have stepped up the training program, having employed a full-time training officer, four field training officers, two firearms instructors with range safety officers assisting them. We have four Patrol Supervisors, and Trained School Resource Officers. We have a hunters safety course given at least twice yearly. There are two K9 officers that also go search our school grounds which eliminates the schools having to pay for a K9 contract service. We have had Town Hall meetings giving Public Safety information in all parts of the Parish. We have increased the sex offender registration officers from one part-time employee to three full-time employees sending them to training every year.

We have made hundreds of narcotics arrests since taking office in 2012 by implementing two K9 units, patrolman trained in criminal patrol, and covert operations. We are also training our newest Narcotics Detectives with the latest methods and equipment.

We have installed a new upgraded website which includes a Sheriff’s Office Alert system, inmate booking and release alerts, sex offender addresses and information and many other features.

We have added a substation in Grand Lake and have also maintained a manned Hackberry substation. The deputies take complaints and do their reports here. The deputies and supervisors are available to the citizens 24/7.

We have 4 marine patrol vessels with updated electronic equipment and G.P.S. units which can locate stranded individuals in any weather. The marine deputies are trained in emergency maneuvers

To name a few changes and improvements we will have a complete traffic division, besides the radars in patrol regular patrol units, to work traffic during this LNG construction phase continuing to keep our highways safe. We have the incipient phase of this now. We will form a Beach Patrol Division to guard our dunes and keep our tourists and local citizens safe on the beaches. We are also going to install License Plate readers at each corner of the Parish and the Patrol units. We are going to implement a drone program which will help with law enforcement in many ways. We will pay for this once we start getting our Industrial LNG Taxes, which will start in December of 2019.

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