Deputy Byron Shoemaker gets Kiwanis Life-Saver Award for actions in saving the life of a family’s pet dog dying from smoke inhalation in a house fire
St. Bernard Deputy Sheriff Byron Shoemaker told the St. Bernard-Arabi Kiwanis Club, “We are all vested in this community and what is important to you is important to us at the Sheriff’s Office’’ after he received the group’s Life-Saver Award for saving a family’s pet dog dying from smoke inhalation in a house fire.
Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters are recognized quarterly by the Kiwanis Club with the Life-Saver Award which is “in recognition of courageous service to our community,’’ said Chalmette businessman Sam Catalanotto, chairman for the Life-Saver Award. Kiwanis Club President Anthony Cole also participated in the ceremony held Nov. 27.
On Oct. 4, Shoemaker, a 3-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office who for 15 years had worked as an emergency medical technician, participated in saving the life of a dog who was barely breathing in periodic short breaths after being overcome by smoke inhalation in a fire at a Chalmette residence.
Shoemaker and Fire Department members kicked in the front door to see if anyone was inside. It turned out no one was home when the fire erupted on Daryl Drive. A pet cat inside died from smoke inhalation in the blaze.
As well as the cat who expired, there were two dogs inside, one who wasn’t exposed to much smoke and the other who had to be rescued from the burning house barely alive.
Firefighters brought the dog out of the home and while one firefighter, Barry Haddley, gave the animal CPR, Shoemaker administered oxygen until the dog began responding.
The canine was placed in Shoemaker’s sheriff’s patrol car and brought to a local veterinarian in Chalmette, where he received fluids and medication and was taken to an animal hospital in Jefferson Parish for further treatment and was held overnight and released to the owner.
Shoemaker, who also serves as paramedic on the sheriff’s SWAT team, said in receiving the award, “It’s always great to be recognized for something you’ve done. I live here and we’re all vested in this community. All of us want to do what’s good for this community.”
“The Kiwanis Club didn’t envision this award as necessarily being for life-saving heroics, but as an award in recognition of the everyday heroic efforts of our deputies and firefighters in St. Bernard Parish,’’ Catalanotto said at the evening meeting. “They are the first ones in the door, or the first ones on the scene, always willing to put their lives on the line so that St. Bernard continues to be safe.’’
Attending the ceremony for the St. Bernard Sheriff Office were Sheriff James Pohlmann, Col. John Doran, head of enforcement operations; Shoemaker’s commander Maj. Adolph Kreger and Lt. Robert Broadhead.
Sheriff Pohlmann told Kiwanis members he first met Shoemaker when he was a paramedic in the parish working for Acadian Ambulance Service and respected the job he did. The sheriff said Shoemaker decided he wanted to be a sheriff’s deputy with the proviso he would keep up his paramedic training to provide that service as well.
“He brings a lot to the table and our community is fortunate to have Byron on our department,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.
St. Bernard Parish businesses contributing gift certificates as part of the Life-Saver Award include Rocky & Carlo’s Restaurant, MeMe’s Bar and Grille, Exxon Mobil, Sweet Water Guide Service, Café Roma and Smoothie King.
Sheriff gives safety tips for holiday season; Also reminds parents to be cautious about children’s activities during school break
With a child in one hand, bags in the other, people shopping during the heightened excitement and stress of Christmas and New Year’s activities can be targets for criminals, St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann said, and they should remember to pay attention to their surroundings in and outside of stores.
He also reminded parents to be cautious about their children’s activities during holiday school breaks.
Sheriff Pohlmann said whether St. Bernard residents are in the parish or elsewhere during the holidays as they shop for gifts or visit others, they should take precautions to avoid becoming a victim of theft or robbery as they go about their activities.
“It’s possible someone may be watching to take advantage of people distracted while busily rushing from place to place,’’ Pohlmann said.
“Holidays are a time when people often are on the go and could let their guard down. Just remember to follow some common sense safety tips to reduce the chances of anything going wrong.’’
Here is some advice for having a safe holiday time, Sheriff Pohlmann said:
Pay attention to where you park while shopping and, at night, park only in areas that are well-lit, and then lock all doors. Once in a store, men should protect their wallets from pickpockets and women should remember not to leave their purses unattended in shopping carts and don’t set them down on counters or floors where they can be taken.
Escort children to a restroom because minors could be photographed, molested or, worst of all, abducted if left alone in public restrooms. If shopping in a large store or mall establish a meeting place in case parents and children become separated. If possible, all parties should have cell phones to contact one another. Tell children in advance that if they become separated from you they should go only to a store clerk or security officer for help, and not to a stranger who doesn’t work in the store.
When leaving a store for a vehicle, scan the parking lot for any suspicious activities, people standing in a group in one area or sitting in a vehicle watching patrons leave. When dark, you may want o ask a store officer to escort you. If walking alone, leave from a door nearest your parked vehicle, have your vehicle keys in hand and, once inside, lock the doors before leaving your parking space.
Also, when children are out of school for holiday breaks, parents need to be proactive and ask where they will be and establish times for checking in. Cell phones are the best method of directly staying in touch with teen-age minors who are away from their parents, but if they are going to another teen-ager’s home parents should insist on knowing the telephone number of an adult who will be there.
St. Bernard Sheriff’s free Holiday Ride Home program has begun for 29th straight year; Call (504) 271-2501 if you have been drinking and want a ride; It was the first program of its type in New Orleans area
For the 29th straight year the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office will be giving free rides home to any parish resident who has been drinking during the Christmas-New Year’s holidays – no questions asked, Sheriff Pohlmann said. The program, which started at Thanksgiving, will run through Jan 2.
Just call (504) 271-2501 and a sheriff’s deputy will pick you up and take you to your home in St. Bernard or, if you live out of the parish, you can be taken to a sheriff’s sub-station where you can make arrangements to be picked up there.
“We are proud of the Holiday Ride Home program,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “And why not? It was innovative when it was started and it shows we don’t want anyone injured by impaired drivers.’’
Roughly 20 people a year take advantage of the offer, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
It’s hard to determine the impact the ride home program has on the number of people who may drive drunk, the sheriff said. “But we do our best to let people know of the free service and remove the temptation to try to make it home on their own.”
The Sheriff’s Office will be working in conjunction with State Police to battle drunk-driving and checkpoints will be set up to specifically look for impaired drivers. “We patrol vigorously looking for anyone who is driving drunk or on drugs.’’
“So it’s really an easy choice to make for a St. Bernard resident who has been drinking during the holiday season,” Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
“Either call the Sheriff’s Office and take advantage of our free Holiday Ride Home program or risk going to jail for driving while intoxicated or otherwise impaired.’’
“We don’t want to arrest anyone but we sure don’t want anyone injuring others or themselves, so we urge people to take the free ride home,’’ Pohlmann said. “To do otherwise is not worth it.’’
“We will take a resident home from wherever they are in the parish – at a party or a bar, etc., – but they must stay home and we will not take anyone to a separate party or another bar,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Sheriff Jack A. Stephens, who retired effective June 30, started the ride home program in 1984 after he had just taken office after his first election. It was the first of its type in the New Orleans area.
Stephens has said it was an idea borne out of the need to do something to try to prevent further holiday accidents that had happened in the past directly because of people drinking and driving while celebrating.
The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, in accordance with Louisiana law, has mailed the 2012 property tax notices via U.S. mail to parish property owners and the taxes must be paid by 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, to avoid any additional penalties and interest.
These notices were mailed to the address on file as provided to the St. Bernard Parish Tax Assessor’s Office. Property owners should have received these notices by now.
If anyone receives a tax notice for property they no longer own, please notify the sheriff’s Civil Tax Office at 504-271-2504 during regular business hours – Monday through Thursday – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays.
If a property owner has moved and doesn’t receive their 2012 tax bill, they need to call both the Sheriff’s Office to give their new mailing address so the tax bill can be sent to them and must call or visit the St. Bernard Tax Assessor’s office to give their permanent address change.
The Tax Assessor’s office is in its new building at 2118 Jackson Blvd., directly behind the old Parish Courthouse that is under renovation in Chalmette, to give their permanent address change.
The Tax Assessor’s number is 504-279-6379.
The St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office only maintains the address change for the current mailing. The Assessor’s Office keeps the permanent address.
Property taxes for 2012 become delinquent after 2 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2012. Interest will be charged at the rate of 1% per month or any portion thereof, under Louisiana R.S. 47:2101.
The Sheriff’s Civil Tax office is located on the 2nd-floor of the Sheriff’s Annex, at No. 2 Courthouse Square. The annex – which is raised above ground – faces Pakenham Drive and is two buildings behind the old Courthouse.
The Civil Tax office will be closed Dec. 24, 25 and 26 for the Christmas holiday and will re-open at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 27. It will close at 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31 – at which time any property taxes not paid will be delinquent – then will be closed New year’s Day and re-open at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 2.
C.O.P.S. FOR CHRISTMAS program brings help from deputies for disadvantaged families, especially kids
In a thoughtful idea, a group of St. Bernard Parish sheriff’s deputies decided in 2011 to give up their annual Christmas exchange of gifts to one another in favor of adopting two needy families for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
A new tradition was born and now the second year of the program called Caring Officers Provide Smiles for Christmas or, C.O.P.S. FOR CHRISTMAS, has begun, with officers helping two different families in 2012.
Sheriff’s deputies from the Corrections Division and Communications Division donated money, got referrals to two families from the agency FINS, standing for Families in Need of Services, then set out to help them for the holidays.
Two families living in Chalmette were asked if they would participate and they agreed.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, sheriff’s deputies and some of their family members delivered turkey dinners provided by Stonewall restaurant in Chalmette to each family.
Their children – two girls and a boy in one family and a boy and girl in another – were asked for a list of their top items they would like for Christmas, which they will receive, as well as a tree to decorate and a meal for that holiday.
“It’s something that went well last year, giving us a feeling of doing something to help others,’’ said Col. David Mowers, head ot the Corrections Division which began the program a year ago. “We wanted to do it again.’’
Mowers added that the two families involved represent “a classic case of people who work for a living but still have money concerns that would keep them from giving their children the kind of Thanksgiving and Christmas they want for them.’’
Other divisions within the Sheriff’s Office also have programs to deliver gifts to the disadvantaged for the holidays.
Both the families being helped by the Corrections and Communications divisions say they appreciate it.
Colleen Alatalo, a single mother with a son and daughter who are teen-agers, said, “This means the world to me to have a regular Thanksgiving meal.’’
She added, “It’s good that people think so much of others to help.’’
Alatalo said she walks to the St. Claude Avenue bus line in Arabi from their Chalmette apartment to get to a job she has in the French Quarter. “There’s only so much left after groceries and rent.’’
The other family, Archie and Jennifer Tompkins, have one young teen-age daughter and a pre-teen daughter and son.
The holiday help they receive “is really going to mean a lot to us,’’ Jennifer Tomkins said. There wouldn’t have been a real Thanksgiving meal otherwise, she said.
Looking at his children helping put away the meal they received, Archie Tompkins said, “They are already enjoying it.’’
Everyone would like extra money for the holidays, but criminals want to take yours.
Rarely does a holiday season go by without someone trying to pull a scam, often on the elderly, to separate people from their money, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
“When you have Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s on your mind and thinking about something you are going to be doing or you are shopping for food or presents, you may not be fully alert to people who want to take advantage of you,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.
But still be alert for things that don’t seem right, he said.
Recently, an older St. Bernard Parish woman was defrauded in a phone scam when a caller claimed he was from a Social Security Administration office and ended up getting financial information from her.
The woman later learned fraudulent charges had been made on a credit card.
Sometimes people call and claim an individual has won a cash prize that will be sent to them when they send a money order to cover a service charge, and of course, there was no prize, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Last December, the sheriff said, a Chalmette man was defrauded in a version of the old “drop the pigeon’’ scheme. Typically, someone approaches the intended victim claiming they have found money or have money to give to a charity – and may even show it to you- then say they will split it if you put up “good faith’’ money of your own.
When the victim delivers the cash, they are either robbed or there is a switch of packages. The victim is left with a stash of cut-up paper he or she thought was the share of money they would get and their own money is gone with the stranger.
“Don’t listen to anyone trying to gain your confidence’’ in such a way, Sheriff Pohlmann said. “Use your experience in life. If something doesn’t look right, it isn’t right. No one is going to give you something for nothing. Walk away without giving or even showing them your money.’’
Sheriff Pohlmann also said, “Remember what a con man once told law enforcement when he was arrested: His aim, he said, wasn’t to get something over on the victim as much as it was to make the victim feel he was getting something over on the person offering him the chance at money. That’s where the word con comes from – gaining someone’s confidence so you could steal from them.”
“Shop St. Bernard” is a message the Chamber of Commerce is emphasizing for the holidays and sheriff’s prison work crews are helping
St. Bernard Parish prison work crews have been helping get out the Chamber of Commerce’s message to “Shop St. Bernard” for the holidays. A work crew, supervised by Dep. Sheriff James Harper is shown putting up signs along the Judge Perez Drive neutral ground declaring “Shop St. Bernard,” a program promoting parish businesses. STEVE CANNIZARO PHOTO.
Crimestoppers Executive Director Darlene Cusanza tells Citizens Police Academy graduates they have taken part in something important
Darlene Cusanza, executive director of Crimestoppers in the New Orleans areas which offers rewards for tips to solve crimes, told the graduating class of St. Bernard’s Citizens Police Academy they have taken part in something important.
Cusanza, who has been with Crimestoppers 17 years, said taking the free Citizens Police Academy course offered each year by the Sheriff’s Office puts participants in partnership with law enforcement in trying to keep a safe community for themselves, their family and others.
And she encouraged people to cooperate in giving tips they may have about crime, saying she knows it works to solve crime because she once robbed and a tip lead to an arrest of the man involved.
“It’s incredibly important”” to participate in a course such as a Citizens. Police Academy because “it gives you a chance to build a liasion’’ with law enforcement, Cusanaza told 27 men and women taking part in the graduation ceremonies at Nunez College on Nov. 14.
Cusanza said she believes Crimestoppers, which works from donations from the public, fundraisers and court assessments in criminal cases, plays a vital role in helping law enforcement solve crimes because offering tips for information has worked.
More than 12,000 felony crimes in the New Orleans area have been solved with the aid of tips to Crimestoppers, which then gives them to law enforcement agencies, Cusanza said.
“It’s money well spent,’’ she said of the reward money. And the cash payments help, she said because, “Not everyone does things for the right reason.’’
Cusanza also discussed how when she was robbed years ago an arrest was made based on a tip. “So I know it works.’’
She also told the graduating class the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office has a proven record of success in suppressing crime.
“You’ve got a great force here. I know because I have worked with them,’’ Cusanza said as Sheriff James Pohlmann and many of his senior staff were seated on stage with her at Nunez.
Sheriff Pohlmann told graduates that St. Bernard still has a small-town feel to it, the Sheriff’s Office men and women are well trained and backed by the latest technology in areas such as communications, weapons and innovations such as a bomb robot to inspect suspicious items.
“We may not be a big parish but we have depth of training among our deputies and depth in equipment.
“It’s great to be the sheriff here,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said, “because it is a place where people will pick up the pohone and report something that doesn’t look right to them.
“It makes it a safe community when citizens get involved,’’ the sheriff said. He told the group he hoped they received insight into how law enforcement works in the parish and encouraged them to get involved in a Neigbohhood Watch program in their community to help keep their area safe.
“And we appreciate you getting involved’’ by taking the Citizens Police Academy course, “It’s important to be an ambassador for us.’’
Mike Gorbaty, an assistant district attorney who took the course, also spoke at the graduation, saying, “We’re still the safest place in the New Orleans area and the reason is the professionalism on the part of everyone from the Sheriff’s Office who came before us’’ in speaking to the class.
Coordinated by Capt. Charles Borchers, who is Director of Community Relations for the Sheriff’s Office including Neighborhood Watch programs, this was the 14th session of Citizens Police Academy since it began in 1999.
Borchers can be reached at (504) 278-7628 to discuss crime prevention tips, organize a Neighborhood Watch group or learn about upcoming free programs given by the Sheriff’s Office.
Citizens Police was started as a mechanism for the public to learn about police work in St. Bernard, interact with officers and ask questions about any concerns. More than 500 residents have participated since its inception.
A man who was shot Wednesday night, Nov. 14, in the Chalmette trailer of a man he met that day was improving in a hospital by Friday and the one who shot him was released from jail on a $15,000 bond on a charge of aggravated battery, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
WCeairon Bailey, 33, who had just moved into the same trailer park and introduced himself that day to the man who shot him Wednesday night, was initially in critical condition in University Hospital but he has improved, the sheriff said. He said the gunshot to Bailey’s upper chest isn’t life-threatening. Bailey is from Louisiana but didn’t have a previous address in the New Orleans area, the sheriff said.
William Bentley, 55, of Kiln, Miss., who stays in a trailer in Chalmette when in the area for work, has been released on $15,000 bond on the the aggravated battery charge. Bently was arrested early Thursday after admitting he shot Bailey, who he claimed had walked into his residence while he was asleep, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
Bentley called the Sheriff’s Office just before 10 p.m. and said he awoke, saw a shadowy figure standing in his trailer on Laura Drive, grabbed a revolver he had nearby and shot him once, also saying he didn’t know it was the man he had met that day.
Bentley said he and Bailey had been drinking beer and talking for several hours, Sheriff Pohlmann said. Bailey also had been in and out of Bentley’s trailer as they were hanging together but Bentley said at some point as they were outside he told Bailey he was going inside to sleep. Bentley also said his trailer door wasn’t locked.
Bailey, when questioned by detectives at the hospital, claimed Bentley was awake and shot him when he walked into Bentley’s trailer that night.
There were blood drops inside the trailer but Bailey was lying face down outside when sheriff’s deputies arrived, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Pre-trial suspect flees Chalmette courtroom; caught after deputies trailed him to the Industrial Canal bridge on St. Claude where he plowed into a vehicle on the ramp and his car caught fire; Later hospitalized
A twice-convicted drug suspect who said he didn’t want to go back to jail fled a Chalmette courtroom Tuesday afternoon but was caught when sheriff’s deputies trailed him to the Industrial Canal bridge on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans where he plowed into a vehicle on the ramp and his car caught fire, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
Cyprian Robertson, 37, of Chalmette, was injured in the accident that happened just before 4 p.m. and was later taken to University Hospital in New Orleans, the sheriff said.
The accident on the bridge, in which Robertson’s auto caught fire, closed the bridge to traffic for at least a half-hour.
Robertson, whom prosecutors said has two past convictions on drug charges, had been out on bond on an arrest in St. Bernard for possession of heroin, possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana.
Out on bond, Robertson was in state District Court Jacques Sanborn’s court in Chalmette on Tuesday for adjudication of those charges and had been offered a plea deal that would have landed him in prison for seven years, officials at court said.
While mulling over whether to accept the deal or go to trial, Robertson decided, instead, to go for the door.
He ran from the courtroom, made it to his car and fled toward New Orleans, making out of St. Bernard on St. Claude Avenue.
Officers in Arabi who learned of the incident placed spike strips on St. Bernard Highway to flatten Robertson’s tires and slow him down. However, Robertson still reached the Industrial Canal bridge with sheriff’s deputies following him, Pohlmann said.
The driver had burned away nearly all of the front tires when he went over the bridge and ended up smashing into the back of another vehicle parked on the bridge ramp waiting for a light at Poland Street in New Orleans, the sheriff said. A coach at Chalmette High was in the vehicle that was struck, suffering minor injuries.
Robertson attempted to run from the vehicle after the accident finally stopped him but he collapsed to the ground. It was later learned Robertson had broken a leg in the smashup on the bridge ramp.
Soon his car caught fire, possibly from his rims sparking and catching gasoline, deputies at the scene speculated.
Sheriff’s deputies and Louisiana probation and parole agent Andrew Bodine carried Robertson away from his car as it burned out of control before New Orleans firefighters extinguished the blaze.
Robertson, handcuffed and lying in pain on the street, said he ran because, “I couldn’t go back to jail.’
The incident backed up traffic in the late afternoon because the bridge was closed in both directions for at least 30 minutes.
Both the Sheriff’s Office and New Orleans police will book Robertson with numerous traffic charges. In St. Bernard, he will be booked with aggravated flight from officers, reckless operation and other traffic charges, as well as driving with a suspended license.
Judge Sanborn ordered Robertson be held on a large bond when he is returned to St. Bernard Parish Prison.