Tonight, KALB reported that a number of employees in the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Department are being used to fight a political battle in the race for sheriff. Michele Godard, KALB’s news director, conducted a series of interviews with detectives and deputies (the deputies’ voices and identities were disguised because they were apparently fearful of the repercussions).
Chief Detective Herman Walters tells Godard: “Some of the office personnel just want to come (to work), do their job, go home to their families, and forget about politics, but that’s almost impossible now. We’ve been doing it for a year… a year and a half. And people are tired of it. Not only employees. People are tired of all the rumors, all the allegations, all of the threats and the things of this nature. It certainly needs to stop.”
Godard also interviews two deputies (though their names and faces are not revealed) who report being intimidated and threatened to sign a petition in favor of candidate Mike Slocum and donate ten dollars toward his campaign. Godard explains, “News Channel Five also conducted secret interviews with sheriff’s department employees who feel so threatened about the day-to-day politics, they need to hide their identities.”
Deputy #1: “I was approached by one of my supervisors, and he told me that I needed to sign it (the petition in support of Slocum), and I asked him what it was. And he told me it was a list that (sp) everybody’s supporting Slocum. I was advised that if I didn’t sign it, I might as well just forget about my career at the Sheriff’s Office.”
Deputy #2: (Godard asked this person whether or not someone told them that if they did not sign the petition, they would lose their job): “They’re not telling us to sign it, but the way they’re asking us to is just read it, sign it, and give us $10 for his campaign.”
Godard then asks Deputy #2, “What do you think is going to happen to people who say no?”
Deputy #2 responds: “I think we’ll… we’ll either be transferred to another division where we don’t want to be put or eventually fired.”
Mike Slocum tells Godard these claims are “absolutely ridiculous” and states that all of his campaigning is on tape (what? how?) and that he has never said anyone would be fired.
The two men who are apparently “responsible for the list,” RPSO Detective Bobby Sandoval and RPSO Detective Adrian Lamkin claim the petition is all-voluntary. Amazingly, Sandoval claims the only reason people are coming forward is to “kill the ad” for political reasons.
Godard asks yet another disguised deputy (Deputy #3) what he thinks the public’s reaction will be when they find out what has been going on in the Sheriff’s Department.
Deputy #3: “A whole lot of them (the public) are going to feel that way (that this is merely politics, and people need to get over it). A lot of them are not gonna be sure what to believe now. It’s going to confuse a lot of the voters, and for that, we do apologize. But we do want y’all to know what we are enduring as deputies. It started a year and a half ago, and especially now that there’s a run-off, it’s worse.”
The report seems to suggest that the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Department is currently overrun by politics and that many deputies DO feel threatened and intimidated by the Slocum campaign.
(Godard says there will be a follow-up report on Monday, which will include an interview with current Sheriff William Earl Hilton).