St. Bernard Community Coalition, which aims to reduce drug abuse, moving forward, including collecting data on substance use in the parish
The board of the Coalition, which has received a federal grant to help with the group’s start-up, is comprised of prominent parish officials, including Sheriff James Pohlmann, Schools Superintendent Doris Voitier, as well as Justice of the Peace Barbara Manuel, Floyd Gue of the Meraux Foundation, Pastor Otto Martin, Coroner Dr. Bryan Bertucci and others.
In March, the Coalition also had a large meeting of various sectors of the community to collect data on drug use in our parish to formulate an action plan on what needs have to be addressed.
Those sectors were school data, law enforcement data, and medical data for the purposes of ascertaining what problems exist in St. Bernard, relative to drug abuse.
Also, the Coalition has added as board members School Board President Diana Dysart, Polly Campbell, Chairman of the Metropolitan Human Services District which oversees community-based mental health addictive disorders and developmental disabilities services to our area, and Steve Cannizaro, public information director for the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office. Jeanie Lannes of the School Board is also now secretary of the Coalition.
Several members of the Coalition have also attended several conferences in Washington, D.C., sponsored by SAMHSA, which is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, for the purpose of obtaining information about running a community anti-drug coalition.
Salande said that while this Coalition is still in its infancy, it is growing fast. Sheriff Pohlmann has offered a conference room for meetings of the executive committee of the Coalition on a monthly basis. Additionally, Schools Superintendent Voitier has given access to office equipment and supplies for the purpose of administrative information.
Also, the Coalition has been offered an office in the Parish Government building by Parish President David Peralta to conduct day-to-day activities, Salande said, adding that shortly, “We will have a phone system in place to accept calls on a daily basis and be able to direct people to resources and expand our Coalition in the form of volunteers and members.”
“We have big plans for our Coalition, including a future web page where residents can access information on our group and updated articles on drug abuse and addiction,’’ Salande said. The Coalition now has an active Facebook page at St. Bernard Community Coalition @ Facebook.com. “Please follow us to keep up with the our activities and announcements,” Salande said
“We also will have several community-wide forums in the future with guest speakers on topics including addictive disorders and speakers on the ramifications for drug legalization/decriminalization that are before state governments.”
Future announcements will be made about forums and town hall meetings.
For additional information, or if residents would like to volunteer to help with future activities or become members of the group, contact Program Director Salande at firstname.lastname@example.org or Board Chairman Daniel Schneider at email@example.com
The Coalition meetings are the second Tuesday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at the Sheriff’s Office Annex building behind the Parish Courthouse on Pakenham Drive in Chalmette.
S.O. collected 49 pounds of mostly prescription drugs on April 26 in a Drug Take-Back Day at a station; Call 271-DOPE hot line to turn in drugs to be destroyed
The Sheriff’s Office is again honoring St. Bernard Parish fifth-graders who have completed a 12-week program in Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., taught by instructors from the Sheriff’s Office – a program aimed at trying to keep kids from using drugs including tobacco and alcohol or taking part in violence or bullying others.
D.A.R.E. program graduations were held April 15 at Our Lady of Prompt Succor School in Chalmette and on April 16 at Willie Smith Jr. Elementary School in Violet.
Sheriff James Pohlmann told children they must concentrate on making the right choices to have productive lives, including listening to their parents and teachers and deciding who they should and shouldn’t associate with.
And he said parents must “stay engaged with their children,’’ including talking often with them and looking for warning signs to help prevent drug use or be alerted to them actually using drugs.
If necessary, drug test kits are available at pharmacies to test young people, the sheriff told parents. “If your child isn’t on drugs, hug them and tell them you love them. If they are on drugs, you still hug them and tell them you love them,’’ but look for treatment options to get to the problem, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Maj. Chad Clark, commander of the Special Investigations Division including the Narcotics Unit, said it takes the kind of education effort given by Sheriff’s Office drug resistance instructors at parish schools to affect the drug problem in America and solid law enforcement to stop drug dealers.
“We can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem,’’ Clark said, noting there still are overdoses and fatalities from drug use in St. Bernard Parish. But he said overdose deaths have been going down in the parish because of a combination of factors including law enforcement diligence. He noted that 100,000 people a year die in America because of drugs and the resurgence of the drug heroin is concerning law enforcement and health care officials.
Several hundred 5th-grade students graduate each semester the D.A.R.E. program given by St. Bernard sheriff’s officers Lt. Lisa Jackson, commander of the program, and Sgt. Darrin Miller. Each student writes an essay about what the learned from the program and the best essays writers are honored at rhe graduations.
Graduations will be held again April 30 at Chalmette Elementary and May 6 at Lacoste Elementary in Chalmette. The D.A.R.E. program, held in both public and private schools, was re-established in 2009, four years after Hurricane Katrina.
“Learn the warning signs of drug use,’’ in young people, Sheriff Pohlmann said to parents at Willie Smith Jr. Elementary, including:
– Loss of interest in things they used to do such as sports or reading.
– Hanging around with new groups of friends unknown to parents.
– Sudden attitude or mood swings.
– Sudden problems connected with school and academics.
Talk regularly with your children and be familiar with their friends, the sheriff said.
If parents see signs of possible problems, don’t be hesitant to ask what is happening and, if necessary, use home drug-test kits to make sure they aren’t on drugs, he said. “Don’t wait until it is too late,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “It is not a phase they will grow out of.’’
Maj. Clark told children they have received the tools they need to begin making right choices. He also said parents can call the SID Division at 271-DOPE (3673) to make an appointment if they want to discuss any particular problem involving their children and drugs.
Taking part in D.A.R.E. graduations from the Sheriff’s Office besides Sheriff Pohlmann, Maj. Clark, Lt. Lisa Jackson, Sgt.Darrin Miller, Capt. Ronnie Martin and Lt. Richard Jackson were members of the Special Investigations Division.
Sheriff’s Office asks residents and businesses with outdoor surveillance cameras to register in a database: Call (504) 278-7628 to register
Sheriff James Pohlmann is asking residents and business owners to help in “our fight against crime’’ by registering their outdoor surveillance system in a sheriff’s database, making it easier for police to quickly see video after a major incident to identify suspects.
Call Capt. Charles Borchers at (504) 278-7628 to register your surveillance system with the Sheriff’s Office.
“We want to create a secured database that contains residential and commercial addresses and contact information of residences and businesses.’’
“This would allow officers investigating a crime such as violence, a burglary or a car or boat theft to immediately locate the nearest surveillance systems in the area,” Sheriff Pohlmann said.
“It would provide the Sheriff’s Office with yet another tool to help keep St. Bernard Parish a safe place to live and work.’’
The Sheriff’s Office isn’t asking for access to anyone’s home or business, just to see whatever video your system may have captured of a crime in your immediate area.
A copy of video from a certain time period would be good enough.
“It would be done with as little intrusion to residents or business owners as possible,” said Sheriff Pohlmann.
Sheriff urges people not to let unused prescription drugs fall into the wrong hands: Turn them in at a Drug Take-Back Day from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at the sheriff’s sub-station at 5429 Paris Road
Sheriff James Pohlmann is urging people not to let their unused prescription medications such as pain-killer pills fall into the wrong hands.
Instead, turn them in to the Sheriff’s Office sub-station at 5429 Paris Road from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 26 on National Drug Take-Back Day.
It will be the fifth year for the highly successful program aimed at ridding unused or no longer needed drugs from medicine chests so no one else finds them and uses them or sells them on the streets.
“Don’t let young people get hooked on pills they find while visiting you,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said, and “don’t throw medication in the garbage where it can be found or down the toilet where it can end up affecting wildlife or seafood in marshes.’’
Sheriff Pohlmann added, “Instead, bring any medication you don’t use to us so it can be destroyed properly.’’
The Take-Back Day is held in conjunction with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and State Police efforts.
However, the Sheriff’s Office was doing it first in the New Orleans area, under former Sheriff Jack Stephens.
More than 81 pounds of drugs were collected six months ago in the last Drug Take-Back Day, held in the parking lot of the Walgreens at Judge Perez and Paris Road.
But the upcoming one will be at the sheriff’s sub-station where sheriff’s narcotics agents will be there to receive drugs from the public.
The effort is important, the sheriff said, because studies show young people often abuse prescription drugs after stealing them from medicine chests at the homes of relatives or at parents of friends.
Residents are reminded they can also call the sheriff’s 271-DOPE hot line (271-3673) at any time they want to turn in prescription drugs between official drug take-back days. A Narcotics Unit agent will call them back to make arrangements.
They should also call the sheriff’s 271-DOPE hot line anonymously at any time to report suspected illegal drug activity. All calls will be acted upon.
18-year-old male booked with felony battery after head-butting a 16-year-old who struck his head and had to be hospitalized for a hematoma causing pressure to his brain;
Also, in a separate incident, a Chalmette man was arrested for leaving two children, ages three and five, sleeping in a truck while he shot pool in a bar.
In the head-butting incident which happened Monday, April 14, Frank “Justin’’ Cummings, 18, 3225 Golden Drive, Apt. A, was arrested Tuesday and booked with second-degree battery. He is being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of bond set at $12,000.
Cummings head-butted Elijah Comeaux, 16, of Chalmette, who fell and struck the rear part of his head on a metal pole, the sheriff said. The incident happened in mid-afternoon and by later that night the teen was vomiting and complaining of pain to his mother, who saw a large hematoma had formed on the rear of his head. He was taken to Children’s Hospital for evaluation, the sheriff said.
He was admitted to the intensive care unit and it was initially thought surgery would be needed to relieve pressure on the brain, sheriff’s deputies were told early Tuesday. Comeaux, interviewed at the hospital, said Cummings and another boy had been quarreling with him for a week or so but didn’t give a reason.
Cummings was interviewed by sheriff’s detectives on Tuesday, acknowledged hitting Cummings, and was booked on the felony battery count.
Comeaux’s family said Wednesday no surgery was performed after Comeaux was responding to treatment and pressure was subsiding on the brain.
In the separate incident about 12;35 a.m. Saturday, April 12, in which two young boys were left in a vehicle, James Acosta, 30, 2317 Pelitere Drive, Chalmette, was booked with two counts of child desertion. He had left them sleeping in the truck, with the engine running and a stereo system playing at a loud volume.
The Sheriff’s Office was called to a bar over the children left alone in child safety seats.
When a sheriff’s deputy went inside and found the owner of the truck, he asked Acosta why the children were left alone. Acosta said he had gone in to cash a pay check from work, had unexpectedly met someone he knew and during a short conversation picked up a cue and began to shoot pool while talking. He said he had been there no longer than 10 minutes.
Acosta was taken into custody at that time and the children were given to a relative of Acosta who was called and picked them up.
Sheriff Pohlmann said periodically people are arrested for leaving their juvenile children unattended in vehicles while they go into a store or somewhere else. The law involved, he said, is there to protect the children who in such a situation are vulnerable to being abducted, sexually molested or in danger of getting out of the vehicle on their own and getting hurt. As summer approaches, residents are also reminded that children left in vehicles on hot days have died of heat stroke, including one case years ago in St. Bernard Parish, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
The skies were sunny and filled with produce and beads on Sunday, April 13 as the Irish, Italian, Islenos Community Parade rolled through the streets of Chalmette. Children looked more to snag the beads and toys being thrown while adults in the crowd seemed to go for the thousands of pounds of cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, lemons and packs of noodles – the ingredients for a good meal.- that were being handed down and tossed.from the 46 floats. Shown, spectators raise their arms to catch items from one float. Also, children were attracted to several parading units from the Sheriff’s Office, including one girl who drew close to look at the department’s new remote control car containing Daren the Lion, the national mascot of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, known as D.A.R.E. Another girl came up to the vehicle of McGruff the Crime Dog, portrayed by Greer Cuccia of the Sheriff’s Office.
More than 300 people in 21 teams took part in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in St. Bernard Parish on April 12, raising at least $50,000 and more is expected
More than 300 people in 21 teams took part in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in St. Bernard Parish on April 12, raising at least $50,000 to help in the fight against the illness and more is expected toward a goal of $63,000, officials said.
Kathy Huff, chairperson for the one-day event held at the old Hannan complex on Archbisho Hannan Boulevard in Meraux, said about $35,000 was pledged before hand and more than $12,000 raised at the site, with silent auctions and other fund-raising events pending as the group tries to reach the $63,000 goal.
“I want to thank members of the community who came out and supported the event’’ to help fight cancer, Huff said.
“We had over 300 people register for 21 teams’’ before the event and many people worked hard to put it on, she said.
Numerous people took turns walking around a track set up as part of the fund-raising effort.
The Relay For Life of St Bernard Parish, which began several years prior to Hurricane Katrina, honors cancer survivors, raises awareness about what can be done to reduce our cancer risk, and raises money to help the American Cancer Society fight the disease.