Archives: June2015

Sheriff’s Office takes out three patrol boats for summer training

Posted: June 17th, 2015 | Filed under: News Releases
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Sheriff James Pohlmann and members of the department’s Marine Division recently took out three patrol boats for summer training on parish waterways.

Sheriff Pohlmann, Maj. Mark Poche, head of the Special Operations Division which includes the Marine Division; Capt. Brian Clark and Cpl. Shane Lulei, both of the Marine Division, and Lt. Robert Broadhead went out in three Triton patrol boats.

The vessels are used for patroling parish waters and for reaching stranded boaters in need of help.

Sheriff’s Junior Deputy Academy being held for 10-13 year-olds through July 22; Aim is to teach about law enforcement and develop self-respect and pride in participants for themselves

Posted: June 11th, 2015 | Filed under: News Releases
 Capt. Charles Borchers, coordinator of the program with Dep. Sheriff Eric Eilers, talks with the class.

Capt. Charles Borchers, coordinator of the program with Dep. Sheriff Eric Eilers, talks with the class.

More than 30 St. Bernard Parish boys and girls 10-13 gather in the Sheriff's Office Training Center to participate in the Junior Deputy Academy, with several parents sitting in at the back.

More than 30 St. Bernard Parish boys and girls 10-13 gather in the Sheriff’s Office Training Center to participate in the Junior Deputy Academy, with several parents sitting in at the back.

Seth Augustine of Chalmette, a participant who said he wanted to attend the Academy,because, “I want to know about the right things to do.’’

Seth Augustine of Chalmette, a participant who said he wanted to attend the Academy,because, “I want to know about the right things to do.’’

Sheriff James Pohlmann talks with participants, including taking questions.

Sheriff James Pohlmann talks with participants, including taking questions.

Brandi Augustine of Chalmette wanted her 12-year son, Seth, to attend the new Junior Deputy Academy being held by the Sheriff’s Office to help him learn to make decisions about his future.

“I knew it would be informative,’’ said Augustine, who attended the first session with her son and about 30 other St. Bernard youth.

It would be a good experience for him, she said, because “he’s at a crucial age where you start to make decisions about the future’’ and a program like this might help.

“And he wanted to see what it was like.’’
Seth said he wanted to attend the Academy because, “I want to know about the right things to do.’’

Kevin Bryan is a sheriff’s deputy in Plaquemines Parish who lives in Violet. He said he wanted his 10-year-old son, Kevin Jr., to be in the class because, “He asks about what I do’’ and the Academy seemed like something he would like, Bryan said.

The program, being held through graduation on July 22, aims to teach parish children about law enforcement while helping them develop pride and self-respect for themselves and respect for their community and its values.

Capt. Charles Borchers and Dep. Sheriff Eric Eilers are coordinating the Academy.

The sheriff, speaking to the group and several parents, said they would get to see some things the public normally doesn’t.

Highlights of the Academy include, he said, a trip to the shooting range where they fire a rifle, a chance to see the department’s bomb robot for checking out suspicious items, learning CPR which can save lives, demonstrations of SWAT equipment, the department airboat, a visit to the parish prison and talks with deputies.

“You will get to look behind the badge,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.

The sheriff also stressed they need to understand that their life will be about the decisions they make, including who they choose to associate with.

“We have a lot of people in our jail who have made bad decisions,’’ often including the use of drugs that got them addicted and led to being involved in crime as a way to find money for more drugs.

Borchers told the class he was a Junior Deputy years ago when the program used to be held before it was brought back by Sheriff Pohlmann. “It was lot of fun and opened my eyes to what to do and not do.”

Borchers also told the children that police “are not people to be scared of. You can trust us.’’

On the first day of class, Sgt. Chris Scheeler, a veteran of the Patrol Division, spoke about the day-to-day job of a police officer and took questions.

On the second session, Maj. Chad Clark, head of the Special Investigations Division including the Narcotics Unit, said that like the rest of the country St. Bernard has had overdose deaths from drugs in recent years and has seen an increase in arrests for use and sale of heroin. But he said that overdose deaths have gone down over the last year.

During the Academy, deputies from various divisions of the Sheriff’s Office will visit with participants and introduce them to functions that impact the parish.

Corporate sponsors and supporters of the Junior Deputy Academy include the Meraux Foundation, J & R Quick Stop, Hook & Line, Wal-Mart, B & G Fresh Market. Breaux Mart, Winn-Dixie, Clements Insurance, LA-Unlimited, The St. Bernard News and The Times-Picayune.

Sheriff Pohlmann reminds residents taking to the waters of St. Bernard to learn and obey the rules of boating safety and be on the lookout for other boats

Posted: June 10th, 2015 | Filed under: News Releases

Fishermen launch their boat in St. Bernard Parish waters.

Fishermen launch their boat in St. Bernard Parish waters.

Speed kills whether on land or water.
With summer fishing and boating in high gear on St. Bernard Parish waterways, Sheriff James Pohlmann is reminding residents the chances for boating accidents and fatalities are higher.

“Be careful, slow down and learn and obey the rules of boating safety if you are going to be on the water,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.

“There’s a lot of boats out there right now and you should think in terms of there’s going to be another boat coming in every turn or canal crossing,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.

Going too fast to react to a situation is a common cause of boating accidents, he said. “Slow down and pay attention to your surroundings.’’

While some people enjoy an alcohol drink it is important to refrain from overdrinking while operating a boat, the sheriff said. Boaters can be arrested for drinking and driving on a boat just like drivers of a vehicle on land, he said. And alcohol was a primary cause in nearly 25 percent of all fatal boating accidents nationally.
Statistics also show nearly 90 percent of the boating accidents recorded came from boaters who had not successfully completed a safe boating class, the sheriff said.

It is recommended that anyone operating a boat take a boating safety course. Just go online to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries web site and find the education section, which will have a boating safety course that is free.

For a list of state-approved safe boating courses visit:
Capt. Brian Clark, a retired Wildlife and Fisheries agent. heads the Sheriff’s Office Marine Division, which comes under the Special Operation Division commanded by Maj. Mark Poche.

Clark said safety on the water involves many things but foremost should be a standing rule that everyone on board a boat be wearing a personal flotation device. For more on state boating and life jacket regulations visit

“It’s required that children 16 and under wear a flotation device at all times and recommended that adults wear them also,’’ Clark said. Drowning remains the biggest cause of fatalities on the water and a life jacket being worn will save lives, he said.

Some boaters used to resist them because they were bulky and made it hard to get around on a boat, Clark said, but the ones made today are lightweight and easy to use.

Before leaving, Clark said, give a float plan to someone. “Tell someone where you are going and when you are expected back’’ so if you are overdue they can inform authorities.

Besides flotation devices, other basic rules for safety include a thorough check of equipment before taking off and remembering to bring items such as a cell phone and cell phone charger a fire extinguisher, a flashlight, proper clothing, some food and water, a safety kit, a throwable device to aid anyone in the water and sunglasses for glare.
“Don’t let yourself get dehydrated because the sun will take a lot out of you and slow reaction time,’’ Clark said.
And one other check-off, if you have a kill switch on the motor remember to use it if necessary.

Man caught in eastern New Orleans after failing to pull off armed robbery at a Chalmette store; Had $3,000 cash in his vehicle and is booked in a N.O. robbery too

Posted: June 9th, 2015 | Filed under: News Releases

Westlee Osborne

Westlee Osborne

A Memphis man had $3,000 in apparently stolen money but tried his luck once too often when he came to Chalmette on Sunday night and failed to pull off an armed robbery when a store clerk wouldn’t give him any money and then failed to evade police who caught him in the city after a car crash, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Westlee Osborne, 29, was arrested about 8:30 p.m. June 7, hiding in the swimming pool of a motel on Chef Menteur Highway in eastern New Orleans. He faces an attempted armed robbery charge in Chalmette and an armed robbery charge in New Orleans.

He also was booked with traffic offenses involving a pursuit in which he allegedly drove 100 MPH at times.

Osborne, driving a rental car from Memphis, entered a convenience store/gasoline station at Paris Road and Judge Perez Drive about 8 p.m. and flashed a gun at a store clerk, Sheriff Pohlmann said.

But the clerk refused him money and when Osborne left empty-handed to flee in the car the clerk followed him out with a staple gun and used it to crack the rear window.

Osborne headed north on Paris Road into New Orleans, with a Louisiana State Police trooper and sheriff’s deputies pursuing.

He led officers down several streets at high speeds after reaching New Orleans but ultimately was driving the wrong way on Chef Menteur Highway when he crashed into another vehicle, injuring two.

Osborne then fled on foot but was caught and held by New Orleans police after trying to hide in a swimming pool of a motel, authorities said.

He was taken to a hospital for injuries received in the crash but later jailed in New Orleans, where he was being held in lieu of $195,000 bond. He was on parole from an aggravated assault conviction in Tennessee when arrested.
In New Orleans, Osborne was booked with armed robbery, two counts of negligent injuring, aggravated flight from an officer and criminal trespass.

Authorities said Osborne robbed one gas station/convenience store Sunday morning in Carrollton, before he attempted to rob a second one Sunday night in Chalmette.

New Orleans Police said Osborne entered a Chevron station in the city at 5:20 a.m. and asked the clerk for cigarettes. When the clerk turned around, authorities said, Osborne pointed a black handgun and robbed the business of about $1,500.

Osborne tried his luck again at the gas station/store at the corner of Paris Road and Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette but got nothing.

He got rattled and fled when the clerk refused to give over any money.
A Louisiana State Police unit was the first to spot the suspect’s vehicle, a silver car with Tennessee plates.
Osborne. in New Orleans, first went to Hayne Boulevard, then to Downman Road before ending up going the wrong way on Chef Menteur and crashing.

More than $3,000 in cash was recovered from his abandoned car at the end of the chase. All three law enforcement agencies involved in the pursuit took part in Osborne’s arrest.

Gretna man faces life in prison after jury convicts him for aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery at a Chalmette pharmacy; Three others including a former store employee await trial

Posted: June 4th, 2015 | Filed under: News Releases

Ben Amos, who faces life in prison after conviction for aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery of a Chalmette pharmacy last August.

Ben Amos, who faces life in prison after conviction for aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery of a Chalmette pharmacy last August.

A Gretna man faces life in prison after a jury convicted him at trial for aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery at a Chalmette pharmacy last Aug. 25. Three others including a former store employee await trial.

Ben Amos, 28, who has been jailed in lieu of $500,000 bond since his arrest outside a Walgreens at Judge Perez Drive at Paris Road after the crimes, was convicted Wednesday by a jury of three counts of aggravated kidnapping of a store customer and two employees taken into a back room during the robbery, one count of armed robbery and two counts of attempted armed robbery.

The jury was out about two hours Wednesday afternoon after a two-day trial presided over by state District Judge Jeanne Juneau. Amos contended he was forced into the robbery by one of the others.

Amos faces an automatic sentence of life in prison on the aggravated kidnapping convictions and will be sentenced June 17 by Judge Juneau.

Sheriff James Pohlmann applauded the conviction and upcoming life sentence for Amos, saying, “It sends the message we want out there that if people choose violence there will be a harsh penalty for them to pay when they are caught. Without a phone call during the robbery and quick response by deputies this would have turned into a hostage situation or worse.’’

A store employee secretly called the Sheriff’s Office while the robbery was in process about 4:30 a.m. and responding deputies caught Amos and Leonard Gibson, 43, at the scene. A third person, a woman who worked at the pharmacy and lived in Chalmette with Gibson, was arrested the next day for allegedly helping plan and orchestrate the robbery and a fourth person, the alleged getaway driver, was arrested several days later.

Gibson, getaway driver John Wilson and former employee Quinita “Peaches’’ Harris, are all jailed awaiting trial.
No one was injured and the only item stolen was a cell phone from an employee, which was recovered. Two guns, two bandanas they wore over their faces, gloves and wraps they were using to try to tie up the victims were also recovered, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
The car used in the getaway vehicle was found at the home of Harris and Gibson in Chalmette.

Sheriff says department is prepared for hurricane season 2015 and residents are urged to do the same

Posted: June 3rd, 2015 | Filed under: News Releases
Sheriff's deputies on two department boats,

Sheriff’s deputies on two department boats,

Nearly 50,000 sandbags stand ready for use.

Nearly 50,000 sandbags stand ready for use.

Trusty prisoners, supervised by Dep. Brian Cadzow, use a funnel device to make sandbags in preparatioon for possible use in a water event.

Trusty prisoners, supervised by Dep. Brian Cadzow, use a funnel device to make sandbags in preparatioon for possible use in a water event.

Sheriff James Pohlmann drives a department boat in preparation for summer.and hurricane season. With him is Lt. Robert Broadhead.

Sheriff James Pohlmann drives a department boat in preparation for summer.and hurricane season. With him is Lt. Robert Broadhead.

Sheriff James Pohlmann says it should be automatic by now for anyone who has lived in this area any length of time: When summer comes, be ready for hurricane season.

The St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office is prepared, the sheriff said.

The department has a plan in place, which includes boats at the ready, a high-water truck that would be ideal for rescue or to haul personnel or equipment to respond to rain events and some 50,000 sandbags already made for use by residents, businesses and parish government, Sheriff Pohlmann said.

“We intend to always be prepared for hurricane season,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. ““Remember, we are so close to the Gulf of Mexico you can’t ignore the possibility of a hurricane.”

“Since Hurricane Katrina’s destruction, the parish has been tested by other storms, including Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and Isaac in 2012,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “We did our best and came through them relatively well. Parish agencies worked well together.’’

Getting ready in advance is the key, the sheriff said.

“That’s true for every family in this parish,’’ he said. “Don’t wait until you hear a bad storm is approaching before you think about being prepared, such as whether or where you would go, if necessary,’’ he said.

“If you start to be prepared now, you avoid the rush at home supply stores and supermarkets which always get crowded and run out of things as hurricanes or tropical storms approach. Don’t wait until the last minute.”

“Give this some thought when you have a chance,’’ the sheriff said. “Think in advance about where you would go if an evacuation is called. Have things like flashlights and batteries, bottled water, medicines in places where you can easily find them if leaving becomes necessary.

“Stock up if possible on things you would have to take if you left or need if you stayed in a storm and lost electricity for more than a day.”
Keep personal papers handy that you would want to have.

“Also, anticipate the needs of older relatives and decide what you would do with pets if you had to leave. The Louisiana ASPCA says pet-owners should never leave them behind when they evacuate because the animals would be at the mercy of the storm.

As for the Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Pohlmann said, besides boats and equipment being tested, plans are in place to move prisoners if necessary. Departments within the Sheriff’s Office have a hurricane plan to follow.

Parish prisoners, using a system developed years ago, make sandbags in preparation for summer, Sheriff Pohlmann said. There are now about 50,000 of them stored.

Acquired through a federal grant in 2013,, the Sheriff’s Office’ custom-built F-650 truck, which has a 37-inch lift and air brakes, is an important addition for hurricane season, the sheriff said.

“It’s meant for high-water situations’’ such as street flooding from heavy rains and could be used for rescue and moving personnel and equipment to where they are needed in a storm.”

Also, members of the sheriff’s SWAT team train on various types of boats from the sheriff’s Marine Division in order to be prepared to immediately patrol neighborhoods in case of any type of rain event flooding.

“If parish government orders an evacuation of residents in any approaching storm we will facilitate that and then lock down the parish to prevent non-residents from entering,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.

In the event of an ordered evacuation, he said he hopes residents would comply as they did in 2008 in the last time it was necessary because it reduces the need for search and rescue operations if there was actual flooding in a storm, he said.

In an evacuation, the Sheriff’s Office “would quickly return to law enforcement functions, including patrol by boats if necessary, to protect property in the parish,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “We don’t want residents making a bad decision to stay simply out of concern over a possible burglary.’’

He said St. Bernard residents with special needs in the event of an evacuation should register with parish government’s Office of Homeland Security and can reach the parish at (504) 278-4200.

Residents can also register for the parish’s FirstCall Emergency Notification Service which provides timely information about hurricanes and other high profile events occurring in the area. These alerts will go to landlines, cell phones, SMS text messaging devices, email and pagers. Residents can now register on line at at the bottom of the page.

Early forecasts anticipate this year’s hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through Oct. 31, may not be as active as some years.

But the sheriff added that it takes only one hurricane to be a bad season if it hits your parish.

If ordered to evacuate, have cash to bring with you as well as several complete changes of clothing and footwear per person. Remember family members with special needs such as infants, elderly and disabled persons and pets.

Your disaster preparation list should also include:

  • Can opener
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Bedding or sleeping bags
  • Fire extinguisher (small canister ABC type)
  • Bleach (no lemon or other additives)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • First Aid kit
  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Eating utensils
  • Tarp, rope, and duct tape
  • Toiletries including toilet paper
  • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlights
  • Sunglasses

For Baby — Formula, diapers, wipes bottles, powdered milk and medications.

For Adults —Medicine, such as heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin, prescription drugs, denture needs, contact lenses and supplies and extra eye glasses.

For Pets—ID tag, photo of pet for identification purposes, weeks supply of food, medications, veterinarian’s phone number. Do not leave your pet behind. Transport pets in secure pet carriers and keep pets on leashes. Most emergency shelters do not admit pets. Check with hotels in safe locations and ask if you can bring your pet.

Entertainment —Books for adult readers and for children, board games and/or other games that do not require batteries or electricity.
Remember to keep important records in a waterproof, portable container, including:

– Inventory of valuable household goods and important telephone numbers.
– Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
– Important papers including insurance account numbers, checks and credit cards.

Two free events in July to teach young people ages 11-19 and adults 21 and over about basic disaster preparedness; Call St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office at 278-7628 to register

Posted: June 1st, 2015 | Filed under: News Releases
The C.E.R.T., or Community Emergency Response Team.

The C.E.R.T., or Community Emergency Response Team.

Teen-agers training training the Teen C.E.R.T. program.

Teen-agers training training the Teen C.E.R.T. program.

Women train by using a fire extinguisher in last year's C.E.R.T. program.

Women train by using a fire extinguisher in last year’s C.E.R.T. program.

Here’s a chance for St. Bernard Parish teen-agers and adults to learn at separate events about basic disaster preparedness response skills including CPR, fire safety and use of a fire extinguisher, search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

Sheriff James Pohlmann said St. Bernard parents looking for summer activities for their children ages 11-19 should consider a free 5-day camp being held July 13-17 at Belle Chasse Primary School at 539 F. Edward Hebert Blvd., off La. Hwy 406 in Belle Chasse.

A separate session for adults 21 and over is being held on Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19, at the same location in Belle Chasse.

He said this is the second year the Sheriff’s Office is participating in both events, in association with St. Bernard Parish government.

Parents registering teens and adults who want to register to take part themselves can call Capt. Charles Borchers of the Sheriff’s Office at (504) 278-7628. Registration should be done before July 6 because space is limited.

Lunch is provided free each day for participants.

One event is the Teen Community Emergency Response Team, or Teen CERT, and the other is CERT for adults, both similar to the old Civil Defense groups which trained volunteers for community emergencies. CERT and Teen CERT are under the overall umbrella of U.S. Homeland Security.

“Teen CERT is a fun way for young people to learn about important things including CPR, fire safety, water safety, leadership skills, with hands-on practices and realistic exercises that prepare you for the unexpected in your parish,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “There will also be team-building exercises, competitive events and recreational activities.’’

Young people and adults will learn how to do specific things such as proper use of a fire extinguisher, how to organize for search and rescue, terrorism awareness and field exercises with simulated disaster scenarios.

The teen camp is ideal for youth groups. Scouting groups, church groups and ROTC students, the sheriff said.

Parents or guardians will be required to fill out a registration form, a code of conduct form and permission forms.

Participants should be prepared for check-in before 9 a.m.