VIDEO: State Rep. calls community safety meeting in Ferriday over gun violence concerns

Published 4:02 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2022

FERRIDAY — Louisiana Representative C. Travis Johnson, a native of Ferriday, called a community safety meeting Tuesday at Ferriday Hall to address an uprising of gun violence in rural communities.

Those in attendance included mayors, chiefs of police and other officials of Vidalia, Ferriday and surrounding communities. Johnson said he called the meeting over concerns he had about recent shooting incidences in Ferriday and surrounding areas.

“Right now, these bullets are missing, but if this keeps going on they could start connecting,” Johnson said.

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Ferriday Police Chief Bo Stevens said his officers regularly respond to shots fired calls where officers arrive and there are no suspects to be found.

“They can’t even tell us where the shots were fired from,” he said.

To curtail the issue, Johnson said he would gather officials and community stakeholders on a monthly call to make sure all are on the same page.

“Collaboration is how I get things done. No single person, no one entity can resolve any issue. It takes us to come together, groupthink and build consensus to move forward,” he said.

Genesia Allen, who serves on the Concordia Parish Police Jury in District 4A, said she called police about gunfire in her neighborhood to find that others were calling with the same issue.

“I could hear through 911, she’s saying what’s your address and she is giving other address. It’s a domino effect going on,” Allen said.

Officials said issues arise when juveniles partake in illegal activities and are not being held responsible for one reason or another, whether it’s because there is not enough evidence to prosecute them as adults or there is no parent or legal guardian to hold them accountable.

The town has a curfew preventing juveniles from wandering the streets alone after 10 p.m., however, Stevens said there is nothing the department can do to enforce the curfew other than to take juveniles in violation back home to their families and issue citations to their parents or guardians.

Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said he feels that many young people have lost respect for law enforcement officers during the defund police movement that began amid national outrage after the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“How do you put respect back into a generation that is lost? I’m open to ideas,” Craft said.

Brandy Spears, public affairs director with Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office, said some people have responded through CPSO’s smartphone app, which allows people to either leave their information or submit tips anonymously.

“We’ve received a number of tips and made arrests through that app,” she said.

She added only a few tips included the person’s name and contact information.

“Most choose to be anonymous,” she said.