KATC Investigates

May 2, 2014 5:53 PM by Akeam Ashford

KATC Investigates Part 2: Are protective orders protecting?

Nearly 2,900 Acadiana residents filed protective orders last year, putting their faith in officials to enforce them, but 60 percent are violated within a year, according to a study cited by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

After an Acadia Parish judge approved Hollins Trahan's protective order, he said he thought it would keep his daughter's ex-boyfriend away from his family.

"I feel my protective order is useless. Why even have one if someone can come in your driveway six times and not even get arrested," Trahan said.

On March 1, Trahan called the Acadia Parish Sheriff's office, telling deputies Borill had come to his home earlier that day.

He also told deputies about two other instances, back in November and December, all when the protective order was in effect.

According to records, Borill wasn't arrested until April 16.

Trahan said he called the Sheriff's Office for weeks after filing the complaint, asking for an update.

The sheriff's office won't make an arrest if they're notified after the incident happens, according to Sheriff spokeswoman Maxine Trahan.

"It's important that you notify our office the minute it occurs; don't wait two or three days later. Report that incident. How can our office know what's occuring as it relates to the restraining order unless we're notified by that individual that has been harassed?" said deputy Trahan.

Deputy Trahan explained if the peron who's being harassed waits to notify the Sheriff's Office, it could slow down the process in getting justice.

"Customarily, we take a statement and send that statement up to the district attorney's office for review," said deputy Trahan. "We don't go out and make a physical arrest when something has occurred between long a period of time. There will be an arrest in the end, but the process takes a little longer."

In Acadia Parish, the case then goes to District Attorney Mike Harson's office, who determine whether official charges will be filed.

In Hollins Trahan's case, deputy Trahan said the Sheriff's Office followed every protocol when it comes to protective orders.

"The district attorney is the prosecuting office," said Deputy Trahan. "We did our job here at the sheriff's office."

But Harson disagreed. He said his office has little to do with arrests.

He said his office will review case files before they go to court, but Sheriff's deputies can decide they have enough evidence to make arrests on their own.

"We review the facts by the investigating agency and look at the evidence they have. Then we determine whether or not there's a valid case," Harson said. "If so, we pursue the charges after that. If there's not enough evidence then we have to refuse the charge."

Harson said his office has up to two years to file charges.

"Now obviously we don't wait that long. We try to get to them as soon as we can, but you know there can be some delay in those matters," Harson said.

According to our research, Acadia Parish has seen a 50 percent jump in people filing protective orders over the past five years.

Harson said he can't explain why Acadia Parish has an increase in protective orders filed.

"We try to deal with it. Most of them probably involve husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend situations. We've got a policy here where we don't drop a case just because the victim is asking up to do it," Harson said.

Harson said his office takes protective orders and domestic violence cases seriously, even offering domestic abuse and rehabilitation programs to both the victim and the accused.

Nearly 14 percent of all protective orders filed in Louisiana come from Acadiana, according to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Over the last five years, the number of protective orders filed have fallen in Evangeline, Lafayette, Iberia and St. Landry parishes, and have risen slightly in Vermilion and St. Martin parishes.

The biggest increases have been in St. Mary, up to 35 percent; Acadia Parish with a 50 percent jump; and Jeff Davis, up 62 percent.

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