Special speed detail reduces fatalities


Source: District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington, Sheriff Stuart Wright

The Natchitoches Parish District Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, administers the Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) program to reduce traffic fatalities and crashes and to promote a safe traveling route in and through our parish.

The top priority of any law enforcement agency is citizen safety The sheriff’s office is responsible for carrying out their duties of enforcing our laws, responding to calls for service, investigating crimes and providing civil services of the office. As a law enforcement partner, the district attorney works closely with the sheriff’s office to investigate crimes, support victims and prosecute criminal cases in the support of the overall mission of pursuing justice and protecting citizens.

When considering the operational requirements to carry out these functions and the budget limitations of each office, law enforcement have not been able to provide appropriate traffic enforcement on I-49. Therefore we implemented LACE to pay the cost for more deputies and law enforcement to be present on the interstate for traffic enforcement. The program is fully funded by traffic violations and is no cost to the taxpayer. “We are confident that this program saves lives,” said District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington.

According to a 2019 report from the LSU Center for Analytics & Research in Transportation Safety, interstate fatalities in Louisiana were reduced by 15.8% from 2018. Of all traffic fatalities, 78% involve one of four factors: speed or aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving or improper safety belt use. In 2019, there were nine traffic fatalities in the parish on I-49. “We will continue to work diligently to stop dangerous and reckless driving and strive to reduce the number of fatalities each year. This year, fatalities have been reduced to one.

This year, law enforcement in Natchitoches Parish issued 460 citations for speeding in excess of 100 MPH, including multiple citations of over 140 MPH. Sheriff Stuart Wright said LACE details wrote 92 tickets Oct. 18. One was for DUI, third offense and two were for no driver’s license. The other tickets are depicted in a graphic on Front Page.

LACE detail statistics

“This is not a speed trap,” Sheriff Wright said. “It is strictly speed enforcement. No one is ticketed for a couple miles over the limit. These drivers are going excessive, dangerous speeds. Safety is the main issue.”

“Our traffic enforcement program prevented these reckless and dangerous drivers from perhaps causing a tragic fatality to themselves or an innocent victim,” Harrington said. In 2019, a total 416 traffic fatalities were related to reckless driving. During our traffic enforcement operations, numerous arrests have been made for outstanding felony warrants, narcotics possession, illegal firearms and driving while intoxicated. In 2019, deputies working traffic enforcement on the interstate made a stop that led to the arrests of three people suspected in a multi-parish theft ring.

In another incident, deputies arrested a suspect who was speeding at 102 MPH. The suspect was wanted for armed robbery in Texas. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to enforce traffic laws on the roads and highways of the parish.

We will always put the safety of our citizens first,” Harrington said.