CPSO taking precautionary measures in Monterey

Published 12:04 am Friday, February 22, 2013

MONTEREY — Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies took precautionary measures Wednesday and Thursday at Monterey High School to prevent a man recently released from jail from harming two students at the school.

Captain Payne Scott said deputies have been stationed at the school and patrolling around the area as a precautionary measure after they received a call Wednesday morning from a Monterey woman saying she felt that her and her two children’s lives were in danger.

The caller, Scott said, notified the deputies that her husband, Joel Smith, 26, 3559 Louisiana 572, Gilbert, La., had recently been released from jail in Franklin County for a probation violation. The CPSO had also previously charged Smith with domestic abuse battery, Scott said.

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“(Smith) hadn’t checked in with his probation officer, no one had seen him, and she was very concerned because he has threatened her and the two kids before,” Scott said. “We sent our deputies down there simply as a precautionary measure and to ensure her, the school staff and everyone that we were handling the situation.

“We wanted to be proactive and make sure those kids — and all the kids at the school — are safe.”

The measures, Scott said, included asking teachers to keep a tighter watch on their students, placing deputies outside the school during the regular hours and also following several buses home at the end of the day.

“At no point did we lock the school down or felt it was necessary to do so,” Scott said. “I have no plans on doing such a thing unless something comes to light that warrants a full lock down.”

Scott said an additional measure the sheriff’s office has taken is to maintain communication with law enforcement officers in Franklin Parish who are attempting to make any contact with Smith.

“Once someone can put eyes on him, we can reassess the situation,” Scott said.

Superintendent Paul Nelson said he had received some calls from parents curious about the situation outside the school, but added that a few extra cars outside shouldn’t worry anyone.

“We have police officers at all 11 schools that are constantly monitoring, and if they perceive a threat, they’re going to act on it,” Nelson said. “These are the kinds of things we’ve reached out to all the local law enforcement officials to help us handle.

“These things are being done to deter negative actions, but not necessarily in reaction to something.”

Nelson said the situation was unfortunate, but one that some administrators have dealt with before.

“A lot of these school administrators get caught up in custody disputes like this,” he said.