ACADIA PARISH — In the past year, Acadia Parish has seen a spike in gun violence, especially among young people. Parish Sheriff K.P. Gibson is asking the community to step up and act as a witness and share information about these cases with law enforcement and district attorneys.
"We're just in the beginning of March and just in our judicial district we've seen a lot of gun violence," says Sheriff Gibson. "Yesterday we had gun violence against law enforcement officers and involving law enforcement."
Sheriff Gibson says that most of these crimes are committed by young individuals between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five years old who are in possession of illegal firearms.
As an attempt to address the issue, deputies are patrolling the streets more, working to control the number of illegal firearms in the parish.
"But you're not going to see a matter of this violence really reducing until we show those who are doing it that we mean business," says Sheriff Gibson.
"For a little while now, we have been prevented from prosecuting crimes because of Supreme Court orders, COVID and so forth," says District Attorney for the 15th Judicial District, Donald Landry. "So we haven't been able to move a lot of jury trials."
But starting on April 1st, prosecutors will be able to bring gun violence cases back to trial. Landry is hopeful that the trials will help reduce the crimes.
"Because the message will be out there that if you commit a crime with guns, or any violent crime, you are going to go to court," says Landry. "Right now, some people are just sitting back because they know they don't have to go to court."
While the presence of the trials in court will help bring realistic consequences to those who commit the crimes, the sheriff says that what they really need is community involvement.
"We really do need the public's assistance in what they see," says Sheriff Gibson. "A lot of folks live in the communities in which these crimes are happening, and they may not want to be involved in reporting them, but it's very important if we want to stop this."
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