Chief Nikeo Collins shares a response to concerned citizens regarding recent criminal activity and explains the background that has led us to the current state of crime in the City of Natchitoches
WARE DETENTION CENTER
If you are not aware due to funding cutbacks throughout the State there are a limited number of Juvenile Detention Centers- like Ware Detention Center in Red River Parish. These facilities are used to house violent and felonious juveniles. Over the summer there were a series of riots that occurred in the facilities that resulted a need for Agents of Probation and Parole being tasked with working as guards.
In Jefferson Parish the LSP SWAT Team was called in to subdue a riot and they had to go as far as placing the most violent juveniles in Angola. I am mentioning this because I am not sure you realize that we are limited to 4 juvenile beds for Natchitoches Parish in the Ware Detention Center. We must release juveniles back to Parents/Guardians when they have been arrested for crimes ranging from Auto Theft, Fighting, Burglary, etc. Often, we have found this process results in the juvenile continuing to commit crimes with no sense of consequences.
Our department recently arrested 3 Juveniles responsible for over 32 burglaries in the East Natchitoches and Downtown area. They were placed in the Ware Detention Center, at least temporarily. We have been working with the District Attorney and surrounding parishes to request additional beds when they are needed. Unfortunately, if they need them in their parish, they often must let ours go. I am not sure why they eliminated Boot Camps and have limited the number of facilities capable of housing the juveniles that are committing burglaries and violent acts.
Last year before the first day of school there was a 14 year that shoot another 14 year 8 times at Pavie St. and MLK Dr. The NPD had to release a juvenile that was charged with 3 Burglaries and 1 Accidental Injury with a Weapon in order to house the Attempted Murderer. This is not something a citizen would expect and could assume the Police just let the juvenile go.
I have been reaching out and attempting to get some assistance that would allow us to at least place ankle bracelets on these “non-violent” offenders so that law enforcement would be aware of where these suspects were. We have found that these juveniles are often the ones that are breaking into vehicles and residences looking for firearms. We have received complaints that adults have put juveniles up to committing these crimes because they know in most cases the juvenile will not be placed in a detention facility due to the shortage of space. I know there has been a push to offer alternatives to some of the juveniles that may be able to be redirected.
Often the juveniles become victims of peer pressure. We have Boys and Girls Club that is offering our youths alternatives and they are trying to start the Big Brother Big Sister Mentoring program. These programs will not address those offenders that are not compelled to participate and restricted from associating with members that are participating in criminal activities.
If we arrest someone, depending on the crime and whether they are an adult, they are usually transported to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center. There they are booked in and will await a bond if it is a felony. Once a bond has been set, they have the resources to bond out and resume their activities. In the case of juveniles, it will be determined if they can be incarcerated. Officers must use an evaluation form to determine if they can be incarcerated based on the circumstances of the arrest. If their scoring is high enough to place them in a Juvenile Detention Center they will attempt to place. As noted, and in recent articles, law enforcement may not have space in the detention center which results in law enforcement having no other choice than to release them to a parent/guardian.
Natchitoches Parish: Do we have any juvenile detention space?