Federal investigation into local law enforcement agencies

The United States Justice Department has launched an investigation into two local law enforcement agencies.

United States Attorney, Stephanie Finley, announced Tuesday they are now investigating the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office. The investigation is into the use of investigative holds by both departments.

Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said she was just notified of the investigation early Tuesday. “This is brand new. I just got this, this morning and that’s all I got is that letter so I too am ready to hear from them what’s going to happen.”

Both departments are accused of detaining people without proper cause.

Police Chief, Neil Lartigue, said the investigation was new to him also. “Not sure what the extent of the investigation is right now at this point in time. I’m just waiting to hear from them to see the direction it’s going in and guarantee my 100 percent cooperation.” Lartigue metions in his 23 years at the department this is the first investigation by the Department of Justice.

According to U.S. Attorney Finley, the investigation should determine if the departments were in violation of the Constitution and federal law.

Vidrine said body cameras were purchased over a year ago to prevent these situations. She felt the department was on the right track.

“Our main goal is to protect and serve them and to do whatever we need to do in a correct way, decent way and a proper way,” said Vidrine who also said her goal is to find the truth which Finely also agreed to.

“We want to do things right and we want to make sure that we are doing things right and whatever their findings show we’re going to comply to it and make sure that we continue to do things right,” said Vidrine.

Finley said they will continue to work closely with the City of Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish as the investigation continues.

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks on this issue: “No individual should be detained without proper cause or arrested in violation of his or her civil rights,”  “as these investigations move forward, the department of justice will work to ensure that the actions of the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office are in service of our shared mission, consistent with our common values, and in accordance with the constitution that we are sworn to uphold.”

The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s office has released a statement:

The Staff of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office are fully prepared to cooperate and assist in the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice in reference to the allegations that Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies used investigated holds and other witness detention procedures in violations of the Fourth Amendment.

The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office feels the agency has been in compliance, with all required practices, procedures, policies, and training required by law, since being notified of said changes in laws. This agency looks forward to resolving this matter in a timely manner. Should any violations of the Fourth Amendment by this agency be found, these violations will be corrected immediately to ensure that no person’s constitutional or federal statutory rights are violated at anytime ensuring due process of law.

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