Breaux Bridge – Lt. Donald Poirier is not a bit surprised when the old Buick Skylark makes a run for it.
“Watch,” he says, chasing the three suspects down the narrow street. “They’ll whip into a driveway and abandon the car.”
Close. At the intersection of Wade and Begnaud, the car screeches to a halt and the driver bails out, sprinting across a vacant lot and vaulting a six-foot fence. He stops momentarily to pick up something he dropped, and then disappears.
All this to avoid a lecture for rolling through a stop sign two blocks earlier? Not likely.
Poirier, who heads up a special task force of the St. Martin Sheriff’s Office to patrol inside the city limits, will later laugh about the awkward getaway. But right now he’s all business, palm on his holstered pistol as he orders the other two men out of the car.
The two passengers know the drill. They’ve got their hands up where he can see them.
This scene occurred about 10 minutes after Poirier picked up a reporter for a ride-along through “4-Side,” a Breaux Bridge neighborhood with a lot of well-kept homes and a reputation for drug-dealing. It’s where a man was shot to death in broad daylight recently.
“We can do this all day long back here,” said Poirier. “It has gotten really bad.”
Nobody knows that more that the good people who live there, who have been complaining to the city councilmen who represent them, Howard “Doc” Alexander and Albert “Da Da” Menard, and anyone else who would listen.
Acknowledging that the Breaux Bridge Police Department is overmatched — undermanned, under-trained and plagued with other, harder to define problems — the two black councilmen pushed for grant money to be used to reimburse the sheriff for putting patrol officers on the beat that is supposed to be pounded by the city police.
Last week the Sheriff’s Office Investigative Bureau conducted a street level narcotic enforcement detail throughout the parish, arresting five and ticketing six.
Anyone with information on criminal activity anywhere in St. Martin Parish is urge to call the SMSO at 394-2626. All callers will remain anonymous.