Ouachita Parish is smart to get out in front of this problem.
From The News-Star:
As the chief law enforcement officer in Ouachita Parish, Sheriff Richard Fewell on Friday declared that the parish "could not and would not" accept buses filled with hurricane evacuees who supposedly raped, robbed and looted in the New Orleans Superdome.
"I don't want people who live here all the time to be the victims of the thugs coming out of New Orleans," Fewell said.
Fewell said his decision was a proactive measure to prevent the criminal activity that's occurring with evacuees in other parishes but emphasized that those in desperate need would still receive help.
The announcement came after rumors circulated throughout the day about whom and how many people would arrive at the Red Cross shelter at the Monroe Civic Center that has been set up to accommodate evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on Monday.
Law enforcement officials received conflicting reports. The first report was that 50 busloads of 40 people each were en route to Monroe from New Orleans. The second report was that 16 busloads of the elderly and infirm would arrive in Monroe for medical care.
Capt. Don McDonald, Louisiana State Police Troop F commander, confirmed that while they were initially told to prepare to escort 50 buses into the parish, that group had been diverted.
Local law enforcement officials, already stretched thin because of sending officers to southern Louisiana and increased security at the Civic Center, said they simply could not handle thousands more people.
At an afternoon new conference attended by officials from throughout northeastern Louisiana, including state legislators, members of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury, West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris and elected officials from outlying parishes, Ouachita Parish Police Jury President Kim Golden affirmed what Fewell had said.
"The decision has been made that the renegade buses can be denied access," Golden said. "The only evacuees that will be considered will be sick, elderly and medical.
"We want to help everyone, but our first commitment is to our own citizens."