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OPSO and MPD Asking Your Help In Preventing Vehicle Burglaries

A public safety message from the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Monroe Police Department

Vehicle Burglaries have increased dramatically in Ouachita Parish over the past several weeks.

In almost all of the reported burglaries, the cars have been unlocked making it easy to burglarize.  The most frequent items taken have been firearms, which creates a very serious problem for Public and Officer Safety.

“Those guns are now potentially in the hands of criminals and that makes everyone less safe. Some of these criminals will graduate from breaking into cars to committing armed robbery or worse” says Sheriff Jay Russell.

Citizens continue to become victims by leaving valuables in plain sight in unlocked vehicles. In most cases, the items have been stolen from vehicles parked at homes, unlocked and unattended during the night with valuable items left in them. In other cases, shoppers purchase a TV, computer, or other high-dollar electronic device at a retail store and then go directly to another retail business or restaurant without unloading their expensive merchandise. When they return to their car, an observant criminal has taken their valuables. We would like to ask citizens to follow these simple crime prevention steps to avoid being a victim of this crime.

As easy as this crime is to commit, it is even easier to help prevent just by taking these simple steps:

  • Always lock your vehicle
  • Do not invite a theft by leaving valuables such as firearms, GPS devices and laptop computers in plain sight inside the vehicle
  • After shopping, lock items in the trunk or take the merchandise home
  • At the end of your day, park your vehicle in the driveway or garage and take all valuables inside the house
  • Be particularly aware when you are at a restaurant or gym because the perpetrators know you are going to be away from your vehicle for an extended period of time and will simply wait for you to go inside to break into your car
  • For bank deposits or withdrawals, always alternate your times and routes, be aware of your surroundings, and never leave cash in the car unattended

The number of thefts from vehicles could be drastically reduced if we all commit to thinking ahead and making the necessary changes in our daily routine.

“It’s your duty to be a responsible gun owner. Just as you would properly store your gun in your home to keep your children safe, you must also take the necessary steps to secure your weapon in your vehicle,” says Monroe Police Chief Vic Zordan.

The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Monroe Police Department are dedicated to arresting as many of the perpetrators as possible; we would never ask a citizen to confront a criminal. We simply ask for citizens to help us by removing valuables from plain sight and locking their doors.

Thank you for the opportunity to address this issue.  Please, let’s all work together to make our City and Parish a safer environment in which to live and work.

One Arrested In Burglary Investigations-Warrants Issued For Two Other Suspects

An investigation by the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Patrol and Investigations Divisions into recent vehicle burglaries in the Sylvan Lakes Subdivision in West Monroe and on Guthrie Road in Monroe has led to the arrest of one suspect and warrants issued for two others.

Dorian D. Harris has been arrested and charged with 19 counts of Simple Burglary and 1 count of Vehicle Theft.  Numerous firearms, ammunition, cell phones and other items were taken from the vehicles, of which several of the items have been recovered.  Two firearms have been recovered that have not been reported stolen, believed taken from vehicles in Sylvan Lakes.  Residents in that area are encouraged to check to see if they have a firearm missing and if so, contact the Investigations Division at 318-329-1200.  Proof of ownership will be required to identify.

The investigation is continuing. Warrants have been issued for Ricco V. Ferrand and Jerry L. Morrison. Both Ferrand and Morrison are wanted on 15 counts of Simple Burglary each.  Anyone with any information as to the whereabouts of either or both is asked to contact the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office at 318-329-1200.



OPSO Mourns the Loss of Retired Sgt. Columbus Gray

Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell and Deputies are mourning the loss of retired Sgt. Columbus Gray.

Sgt. Gray passed away November 5, 2021. Prior to joining the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Gray served in the U. S. Army.  He was employed by OPSO in 1975 where he served until he retired in 2000. He began his career in the Patrol Division, later transferring to the Investigative Division in 1981. During his employment, he also served in the Warrants Division and the Court Support Division.

Sgt. Gray was respected by his fellow deputies and will be missed.  Please keep his family in your prayers during this time.

Funeral services for Sgt.Gray will be at the Greater New Antioch Baptist Church, 301 Sherrouse Street in Monroe on Friday, November 12, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.

Visitation will be Thursday, November 11, 2021 at Smith’s Funeral Home in Monroe from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.


OSPO Mourns the Loss of Retired Deputy David Coutcher

Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell and Deputies are mourning the loss of retired Deputy David Coutcher.

Deputy Coutcher passed away October 31, 2021.

He began his career at the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office assigned to the Corrections Division in 1988. He transferred to the Patrol Division in 1991, where he served until becoming a D.A.R.E. Officer in 1997.

David served as a D.A.R.E. Officer for the rest of his career until retiring in 2017. He received many letters of commendation for his efforts working with youth, both through the D.A.R.E Program and in his personal life.  No doubt, many of you reading this remember him as your D.A.R.E. Officer when you were in school. When he retired, he moved to Missouri.  There, he went to schools and children’s groups, reading stories and spending time with them.  During Christmas, he often dressed as Santa and read Christmas stories to the youngsters.

All of us remember David as a good man, all heart and genuinely cared about people, dedicated to helping educate our children.  He will be missed by his family and Deputies, as well as all those that knew him. Please keep his family and fellow Deputies in your prayers during this time.

Funeral services will be held November 5, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at the Christ Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Lebanon, Missouri.

The family plans to have a memorial service here in Monroe at a later date.

Sheriff Russell Urges Parents to Check Sex Offender Registry before Halloween

Sheriff Russell Urges Parents to Check Sex Offender Registry before Halloween

Did you know according to statistics from the Department of Justice and Watch Systems LLC, an estimated 80% of all addresses have at least one sex offender within one mile?  Forty-five percent of sexual assault victims are under twelve, and 75% of victims know their attacker.  Over half of all sexual assaults occur within one mile of the victim’s home.  Did you know currently there are 330 registered sex offenders in Ouachita Parish?

So before your children Trick-or-Treat this Halloween, Sheriff Russell wants parents to have real-time access to sex offenders in your area.

“We do our best to ensure sex offenders live where they tell us, but it is up to our citizens to utilize these online tools to see who the registered sex offenders are and where they are living,” says Sheriff Russell.

It is critical that you “Know Before You Go” this Halloween.”  Sheriff Russell advises parents to go to the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office website at www.opso.net or the OPSO Mobile App on your smartphone and click the Sex Offender tab to search for sex offenders in your area using the statewide database. Simply enter your home address or an address in the neighborhood you plan to visit to view a printable map of the neighborhood and any offenders in the surrounding area. Parents may also visit Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association website at www.lsa.org and click on the Public Resources, Sex Offender Tracking tab.

While you are on the website, Sheriff Russell encourages you to take one extra step and register for the site’s free e-mail alerts.  “You can enter your home, school, grandparents’ addresses to receive real-time e-mail notifications any time an offender moves within one mile of any address you register,” says Sheriff Russell.

“If you aren’t planning on Trick-or-Treating in your own neighborhood, but will be in a different neighborhood, register that address beforehand so you know which houses to avoid,” says Sheriff Russell.

With these resources available, Sheriff Russell says parents can feel confident that they are armed with the necessary tools to keep their children safe this Halloween.

If you have any questions, or need further help regarding the sex offender registry, contact the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Investigative Division at@ 318-329-1200.



OPSO Mourns Loss Of Retired Deputy Clayton Smith

Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell and Deputies are mourning the loss of Retired Deputy Clayton Smith.

Deputy Smith passed away October 25, 2021.

He began his career in Corrections at the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office in 1986 and retired in 2012 after 26 years of service.  He worked in Corrections, Court Support, Work Release and the Rifle Range during his career.  Those that worked with him remember him for his work ethic and always displaying a positive attitude.  He was very dedicated to OPSO and serving the residents of Ouachita Parish.  Please keep his family and Deputies in your prayers during this time.

Graveside services will be held at 3:00 p.m. Thursday at Ogden Cemetery in Ogden, LA.

Sheriff Jay Russell and Deputies Offer Halloween Safety Tips

With tricks and treats fast approaching, Sheriff Jay Russell and deputies of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office would like to make the public aware of some Halloween safety tips to keep kids safe.

Top tips to keep your kids safe on Halloween

For parents and children:

  • Children under 12 should trick-or-treat and cross streets with an adult.
    • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
    • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Parents should remind children to watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
    • Look left, right and left again when crossing and keeps looking as you cross. Walk; don’t run, across the street.

For drivers:

  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
    • Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day so you can spot children from greater distances.
    • Remember that costumes can limit children’s visibility and they may not be able to see your vehicle.
    • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings, especially the use of any mobile device.

Costumes and Treats

  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and choose light colored costumes to improve visibility.
    • Choose face paint and make-up instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision. Look for non-toxic designations when choosing Halloween makeup.
    • Avoid carrying sticks, swords, or other sharp objects.
    • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better, as well as to be seen by drivers.
    • Liquid in glow sticks is hazardous, so parents should remind children not to chew on or break them.
    • Check treats for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them. Candy should be thrown away if the wrapper is faded or torn, or if the candy is unwrapped.

Check the Sex Offender Registry

Be sure and visit our website, www.opso.net or use the OPSO Mobile App on your smartphone to check the sex offender registry for addresses of any registered offenders in your neighborhood or the area you plan to take your children.



Ouachita Sheriff’s Deputies Receive Awards

Two Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Deputies were recently recognized for their work with Keep Louisiana Beautiful and Ouachita Green.

Sgt. Wayne Heckford received the Golden Can Award from Keep Louisiana Beautiful, a state affiliate of the National Keep America Beautiful organization.

The award is presented to a statewide winner each year honoring a public servant who displays a deep commitment to KLB’s mission in their daily work by going above and beyond the call of duty.

Sgt. Heckford is a 30 year veteran of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office and supervises the Code Enforcement Division, which enforces the litter abatement ordinances in Ouachita Parish.

Warden Paul Campbell was presented the Law Enforcement Award by Ouachita Green for his commitment to service assisting the organization each year.

He was recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty by helping with litter abatement and recycling projects. He has also played a key role in providing support for their Household Hazardous Waste and America Recycles Day events, as well as assisting with stream cleanup projects.

Warden Campbell is a 29 year veteran of OPSO and is currently the Warden at the Ouachita Correctional Center.


OPSO Announces Temporary Range Hours For Sundays

The Ouachita Parish Public Rifle Range will temporarily begin opening on Sunday afternoons from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. effective Sunday, October 31, 2021 and continuing through January 9, 2022.

The pistol and rifle ranges are the only ranges open.  The 5 Stand and Archery Ranges will remain closed on Sunday’s due to 4H Shooting Sports practice.  The temporary hours are to enable hunters to have a safe place to check their rifles if they need to.

The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office wants to remind all hunters to be safe and to check your target and back ground before firing a shot at a game animal. Have a safe hunting season.


Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Deputies Making A Change (DMAC) visit Pre-Schoolers

Pre-Schoolers at the First United Methodist Church have been learning about Community Service Workers this week.  Director Cheryl Carr invited Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Deputies to visit with the children and tell them about what they do.  Members of the OPSO Deputies Making A Change (DMAC), including Master Sgt. Rusty Barker, visited with them this morning to tell them about their work.  Master Sgt. Barker talked to the children and told them to work hard in school, have pride in themselves and listen to their teachers and parents. The children were then shown some of the equipment Deputies use. We appreciate the opportunity to visit with children and thank Director Cheryl Carr and her staff for inviting us.