EVANGELINE PARISH, La (KLFY) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has released details into improper practices at the Ville Platte Police Department and Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office. The investigation began back in April 2015.
The Justice Department says both agencies have been engaging in conduct that violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
A procedure called an “investigative hold” is what DOJ says both agencies have been using. The procedure entails individuals being arrested and placed in holding cells without probable cause and in many cases were never charged. They were also left in the cells for several days unable to make contact with family or friends and without adequate food.
“It makes me feel sad that this is going on this day in time,” said Ville Platte resident, Arthur Sampson.
The DOJ says this is a case of a disturbing pattern of officers overstepping legal boundaries. Sampson says this type of behavior doesn’t come as a surprise and has been going on for many years.
“They have violated people’s civil rights for years here in this lil town,” said Sampson. “My rights was violated several times.”
Per the Justice Department’s report, in one instance a woman claims she spent several days in a holding cell where she slept on the floor and was refused the opportunity to shower. Sampson believes this type of alleged mistreatment shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“I think that some criminal charges, criminal penalties, or monetary penalties should be imposed on both agencies,” said Sampson.
The Justice Department’s findings resulted from a review of policies, procedures, and training systems, that included meetings with leadership of the police department, sheriff’s office, and city officials–who in turn acknowledged that the investigative holds are unconstitutional, and Sampson stands firm that both agencies should be penalized.
“They going to continue on doing the same practice. There’s nothing that’s going to change until they come down like they did in New Iberia–charge some of these deputies, charge some of these officers, and hold them accountable,” said Sampson.
News 10 reached out to Ville Platte Police Chief, Neil Lartigue, who declined to comment and Evangeline Parish Sheriff, Eddie Soileau, was unable to be reached, however, the Justice Department says they plan to work with both agencies to ensure that officers correct this issue.