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An interview with Sheriff Parker

by Will Phillips

In the most recent election, Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker was the only Sheriff in the region to run unopposed. In an interview with Parker, the dedication to serving the community shines through his every word, showing why the community is happy to have him continue in his role.  “It’s important for me to be open to the public,” Sheriff Parker emphasizes. “My office and I, we work for the citizens of the parish. They elected me to be here, and being transparent with them, letting them know what’s going on in the department, it’s important to me.”

One of the recent strides towards transparency and effective communication with the community is the appointment of Pat Culverhouse, a seasoned Public Information Officer with extensive experience. “Pat has got a ton of experience. He was the Public Information Officer for Caddo PA’s Office for many years as well as the Bossier Parish Police Jury,” Sheriff Parker stated.

“I could see that there was a need for us to improve on our social media and outreach to the community. My door is always open anytime people have questions or concerns or having issues out in the parish. We’re here for the citizens.”

Reflecting on the responsibilities of his role, Sheriff Parker likens it to running a business, emphasizing fiscal responsibility and public safety. “It’s like running a business being sheriff,” he notes. “You’re dealing with a 30 million dollar budget where you’re dealing with the taxpayer’s money. That’s a big responsibility on my part, to be able to utilize that in a way to not only help my office to function, but also keep the citizens safe, as well as my deputies.”

Sheriff Parker’s commitment to improvement extends beyond community engagement to infrastructural upgrades. “We’ve been working in conjunction with the police jury, and we’ve broken ground on the women’s facility this past year,” he shares. “Hopefully by the middle of this year, we’ll be in the construction phase of the building going up. We’re excited to be able to do something like this.”

This new facility wouldn’t only help local law enforcement, but also agencies from the surrounding area. “Normally we average around 60 to 65 females. Only about 15 of those are Webster Parish females. We house females for other local agencies around like Bienville Parish, Claiborne Parish, Red River Parish. A majority of those females are from other agencies that have no way to house them.”

The Sheriff also spoke of a new firing range that his office has invested in. This won’t only be a benefit to his office and deputies, but to other local law enforcement agencies and citizens as well. The facility, along with getting one of his deputies a training to be a POST certified range instructor, will allow the Sheriff’s Office to train officers and citizens alike.

 “We are very proud to be able to offer something, not only to the deputies within the department, but also to the citizens,” he emphasizes.

“It keeps things in house, it keeps us from having to ask to borrow another range facility from another parish, another agency. We will also be able to assist other agencies inside the parish if they need some assistance in training and re-certifying.

Additionally, the sheriff’s office has acquired drones through a state grant, enabling efficient responses to emergencies and enhancing search and rescue capabilities. “If we have a hazmat incident on I-20 or 371 in the parish, instead of sending deputies into harm’s way, we can launch that drone to get a survey of the site,” said Sheriff Parker. “All done through a grant from the state, so it didn’t cost the citizens.”

Despite the challenges, Sheriff Parker expresses his dedication to serving the community for years to come. “If the Lord blesses me, I’d love to stay another 12 years,” he shares. His active involvement in community activities and his commitment to accessibility distinguish him as a sheriff deeply rooted in his community. “I haven’t really slowed down,” he says. “I’m actively staying involved with community activities and functions. I can leave this office at lunch every day and go out visiting with folks, letting them know that I care about them, and I think that’s what’s gonna keep me here.”

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