New District Attorney Collin Sims, Sheriff-Elect Jason Smith, and Bogalusa Mayor Tyrin Truong speak out on plans to police Washington Parish, Bogalusa

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

New leadership in law enforcement and the mayor’s office could provide an opportunity for collaboration to fight crime and enforce the laws in Bogalusa and Washington Parish. On June 28, Sherriff-Elect Jason Smith will take his post as the new Sherriff of Washington Parish.

“We’re fighting an insurgency, battling for the hearts and minds of 15 to 25-year-old men in Bogalusa. The Sherriff’s office needs to shift from a law enforcement agency to a security and intelligence agency,” Smith said.

Smith plans to use the limited manpower afforded to his department to actively gather intelligence and “Identify nefarious actors, and get to know the people.” He said that the department needs to focus more on gathering and applying intelligence in the community, and be more concise in their efforts to thwart crime by focusing their resources where they are needed the most.

He brings a wealth of hard-earned knowledge and experience gained as a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps to his new job, and plans to break up the Parish into five districts, each headed by a Chief. This will allow him to delegate authority and responsibility efficiently, and give each district’s law enforcement officers an opportunity to become more involved in the area they are responsible for. One district is set aside for the city of Bogalusa.

“I can read a map, and last I checked Bogalusa is still in Washington Parish. The Sherriff’s department still has responsibility and jurisdiction. We have to work with the Mayor, the Police Department, and City Council.”

Smith also plans to open the parish-wide 911 call center built after Hurricane Katrina, but never used. This will speed up the dispatch process and allow faster communication across departments throughout the parish.

Mayor Tyrin Truong has been pushing for a more effective police force inside the city of Bogalusa since he took office in early 2023. “From 2022 to 2023, I cut the homicide rate by about 38%. That comes from investing in the teenage population most at risk for gun violence. We plan to continue to invest in people and prevention instead of reactionary policing and that’s why the administration is glad to be appointing a new police chief,” Truong said.

Truong recently appointed a police chief selection committee that will be responsible for selecting a new police chief from a pool of applicants supplied by the mayor. The applicants recently took their civil service tests and once those results have been returned, a new Police Chief will be named.

“I would like to thank the acting Bogalusa Police Department Administration for their work thus far. I look forward to further collaboration with WPSO and the upcoming inauguration of Sheriff-Elect Smith.

Recently elected District Attorney Collin Sims said, “A concerted effort by the Bogalusa Police Department, Louisiana Special Prosecutors, Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has had an impact. Troy Tervalon has been an invaluable resource.”

Sims reinforced the need for more cameras in Bogalusa, and cited multiple incidents in recent years that could have been solved more easily if footage of the crime scene had been available. He said that Washington Parish, despite having a much lower population, represents a disproportionate number of violent crimes in his district. “44% of active pending trial murders in pre-trial posture are in Washington Parish.”

Sims said, “It’s all connected, the courts have to process, the budget has to be there for law enforcement, and we have to get the right people and the right training to be effective.”