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Sheriff addresses growing crime problem in Ascension

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DUTCHTOWN - Recent shootings around Ascension Parish are raising concerns over the crime rate in the community that has always claimed to be safer than Baton Rouge.

Tuesday night, a brazen 6 p.m. shooting outside of a busy gas station at I-10 and Old Jefferson Highway sent a woman to the hospital.

Just four days earlier, deputies worked another crime scene in Gonzales where a high school senior was shot to death over a social media feud.

Sheriff Bobby Webre called both incidents isolated but acknowledged the uptick in violence.

"We're seeing a rise in violent crime across the country, and we're not being spared here in Ascension Parish. We're starting to see a rise in crime also," he said.

According to Webre, the increase is symptomatic of the effects of the pandemic.

"There was a lot of money put on the streets during the pandemic also, some of the stimulus money. Money in the wrong hands is not always a good combination. If that gets out in the streets you're probably seeing an uptick in drug transactions," Sheriff Webre said. "You see an uptick in gang-related fights between each other and when you have that you also see an uptick in shootings. We have an uptick in drive-by type shootings and an uptick in homicides."

This year Donaldsonville — which has dealt with a rash of shootings — implemented a task force with the sheriff's office to combat crime, funding extra hours for deputies to work. They say that's been a success.

But Webre says the only way to keep crime out of his parish, is to enforce stricter penalties and jail time.

"We just have to do everything we can on the proactive side to make sure that crime stays at bay, because Ascension Parish has always been a safe community to live in, and it still is. But you cannot let crime go unpunished so to speak."


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