Jindal and law enforcement reps meet in ChalmetteAug 12th, 2013 | By admin | Category: Top Story
Governor Bobby Jindal met with law enforcement representatives from around the state last week to strategize operations during an emergency. August and September have been the most active months of hurricane season.
A big part of that is the evacuation of prisoners. Sheriffs, other law agencies, state corrections officials and State Police acknowledged that with 10,000 prisoners being held in jails in South Louisiana, it is imperative that plans for their evacuation begin well before they are needed.
St. Bernard Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann pointed out that St. Bernard learned in Hurricane Katrina that evacuating the parish prison in Chalmette – which did not flood – in favor of bringing prisoners to New Orleans jails – which did flood – was not the right decision.
Since then, as two storms have threatened the parish— Hurricanes Gustav in 2008 and Isaac last year— prisoners were evacuated to state prisons further up-state. Sheriff’s Office assets, including vehicles and equipment were also moved across Lake Pontchartrain to avoid losing them as happened in Katrina, Pohlmann said.
“Every region is different, every region has its own unique concern,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal, “and now is the time to address those differences, not in the middle of a storm.”
“There is no question this state is ready’’ if there is a storm, the governor continued, but it is the work done in advance between different groups that make it prepared.
Unprecedented cooperation Jindal said something is learned each year from a hurricane season. Officials throughout coastal areas from law enforcement and government now enjoy unprecedented cooperation with each other as they unite in hurricane preparation. Looking around the room, Jindal said, “five or six years ago you wouldn’t have seen all these people working together’’ to prepare for an area- wide response to a threat.
Also, since Katrina, officials said, the ability of communications systems to operate between inter-parish agencies has grown dramatically, marking a huge improvement. Law enforcement agencies from St. Bernard, St. Tammany, St. James, Jefferson, Plaquemines, Washington, East Baton Rouge Parishes, along with State Police and others, were represented. The National Guard was also represented. Louisiana Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Mike Ranatza was part of the meeting as well as Assistant Executive Director Gary Bennett. St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta also addressed the group.
In meetings like last week’s, government and law enforcement officials can “talk bluntly to each other about what worked and what didn’t work’’ the previous hurricane year, Jindal said. Jindal said about 7,000 National Guard personnel currently are available to respond to any emergency.