Now that it’s been a little over a week since Jason Parker has taken up the role as Webster Parish Sheriff, he took some time in order to talk about how he’s settling into the position as well as what are some of his plans for the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office’s future. This includes a focus on building relationship between citizens and the deputies that patrol their areas, training that will will provide deputies with interviewing and de-escalation techniques, as well as a new app that the office will be getting where citizens will be able to find all the information relevant to the WPSO in on place.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response and support that I’ve received by the citizens and by the Sheriff’s Deputies in general. They’re excited about the transition. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been a whirlwind since July first. I’ve been very busy with promotions, personnel changes, budget etc. In the days that I’ve sat in this office, I haven’t left this desk much,” said Parker.
“As the chief law enforcement officer of the parish, since July 1 my main role has been being a problem solver for the residents, and I think the citizens expect and deserve to talk to the Sheriff in regards to the issues they’re having. I’m honored to serve in whatever capacity necessary to maintain peace and harmony in the parish.”
As mentioned previously, one of Parker’s focuses now that he is Sheriff is community policing, and having his deputies build stronger relationships with the citizens that they serve.
“Community policing is big for me. We had a patrol meeting and I said, ‘Guys, one of my main priorities is dealing with criminals, but I don’t care if somebody calls up here for us to handle a cat in a tree, we’re sending somebody. It ain’t really our deal, but we’re here to serve, and protect. If they need something, we’ll go see them,” said Parker.
“I feel that law-enforcement is much more than just putting handcuffs on somebody, and that Deputies should get just as much satisfaction helping somebody change a flat tire on the side of the road as they do making an arrest. That’s who I am and that is what I want to relay to my deputies. In the next four years my goal is to earn the respect and confidence and the trust of the citizens that I serve. Public service is my passion. It’s all I know. It’s what’s in my heart.”
Parker also stated that he is going to be giving more opportunities for Deputies to receive training locally that they may not have been required to have previously.
“Normal interview techniques are held back until you make Investigator or Detective. I told the patrol guys that we’re able to get them in those classes because even though they’re not a detective, it’s going to better themselves, which is going to make us a better Deputy on the street,” said Parker.
“I think the more training they get, the better service that the citizens will have. One of my main things is de-escalation training. I think that a lot of the time when we roll up on a situation, how you communicate and talk to people can determine how things will go.
Twenty-seven years and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to put my hands on somebody. Normally I can sit there, even if they’re at a ten, and can bring them down just by talking to them. That’s what we need, we need some training. And we’re excited about the opportunity to get out here and be professional servers to the people.”
In line with his goal of getting the community more familiar with the staff of the Sheriff’s Office, the WPSO is planning on releasing an app that will make it easier for citizens to get information about and from the Office.
“An app for the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office. We’ll post stuff on there about promotions, and kinda let the community know who our folks are up here, not just the Sheriff. I think they need to know who the Major of Patrol is if they have an issue on patrol side, or who my administration is as far as narcotics. I just think the citizens need to have little more contact with us.”
Parker is coming into his position in the middle of a year like no other. The COVID-19 Pandemic has caused numerous changes to people’s daily lives and brings forth its own set of challenges for our leaders to navigate. When asked about taking office at this time, Parker said, “I’ve had a few people ask me if it was a bad time to come in as Sheriff, but I like to look at it as an opportunity to shine. Whatever the opportunity is, negative or positive, I try and step in and see what we can do to make it better, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
“There will be some adjustments here and there, but for the most part, I think morale here is through the roof as far as the transition. Sheriff Sexton has done an awesome job, and we want to continue building upon what he’s done, make improvements, and continue moving in a positive direction.”