Opelousas, like many other cities in Acadiana, is battling a spike in crime. Many of these crimes involve guns.
In a one-on-one conversation, an officer explains to Marcelle Fontenot, he and his fellow officers fight daily to remain a step ahead.
"I'm worried," says Sergeant Meddrick Pekins.
Marcelle asks, "What's your worry?"
"We have people losing their lives and freedoms due to gun violence. The question is just, who's next?"
For the past 12 years, Sergeant Meddrick Pickens has been suiting up and hitting the streets of Opelousas. The Opelousas Police Department is the only department he has ever worked for.
"It's a lot of other things going on in the city but guns are by far the worst."
According to OPD, from January until the third week of July in 2020, there were 82 cases of shots fired with casings or other evidence of a shooting found on scene.
In that same time period this year, OPD is at 97 cases.
Sergeant Pickens says many of the cases involving guns are guns in the hands of juveniles.
"The respect for officers has changed. The younger generation really makes policing harder. Now it's one out of every three juveniles walking down the street with a gun."
When it comes to gun laws, Pickens says he doesn't believe changing laws will help.
"The streets are already too flooded, that won't affect anything."
What will affect things, he believes, are people who know about crimes that happen speaking up so officers can do their jobs fully.
"When they start shooting and we get there, nobody heard or saw anything but the road is full of casings. They want a safer neighborhood but they also don't want to make it safer either because majority would rather go out and seek revenge on their own."
Sergeant Pickens grew up in the city he serves. He says when he was younger, people would fight and go home alive. He says now, at least two lives are being lost with squeeze of each trigger: the life of the person in front of the barrel and the life of the person behind it.
He says, however, he is still hopeful that what he does everyday will make a difference and he isn't going anywhere.
"I'm hoping to retire here. I refuse to give up."
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