Comparison of Working in the Sheriff's Office as an Intern to the Job of a Full-Time Employee
The criminal justice field is often misunderstood for lacking job opportunities, but there are various sectors in which an undergrad can decide to work in. The field not only offers local law enforcement opportunities, but it offers a wide range of positions. Some of the positions offered can be found in the state, federal, and military areas. Although there are many sectors in the criminal justice system, they all entail different sets of skills and knowledge in order to fulfill the needs of each field. The prerequisites needed to fulfill the duties of the various sectors of the Sheriff’s office will be explained. I will also explain how these duties are alike and different from those of other agencies.
This paper will examine my job as an intern in comparison to the job of an ordinary employee. The sheriff’s office offers different sectors, in which each has their own requirement for qualification. This paper will describe what is required of the sheriff’s office in order to be hired. It will also include my end results and thoughts on whether I was prepared to work here from the beginning. I have gained knowledge from various mentors in the sheriff’s office and it will be compared to the knowledge I gained from my criminal justice degree. I will begin by explaining the fundamentals.
To have a better understanding of Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) let’s have a look at the history of the department and those who historically made a difference. In 1960, a Sheriff by the name of W.E. Harson was elected and he founded the Parish’s first departmentalized Sheriff’s Office. He emphasized training as a requirement for every employee. He also initiated the first boat patrol on the Vermillion River. (LPSO,2019). This became very essential when search rescues were needed to find a person. Amongst that he also instituted the first vehicular rescue unit that was equipped with resuscitators, tools, and a radio (LPSO, 2019).
In 1968, Sheriff Carlo Listi was elected, and he reconstructed the Sheriff’s Office by demanding constant patrol over the entire parish using the most up to date equipment for the safety of his deputies. (LPSO, 2019). He was also known for gaining national recognition for creating P.I.L.O.T. (Police Integrated Logistical Operations Team), which is used during rescue work and emergencies in law enforcement in the most methodical way possible. The “Angel of Mercy Vehicle” was also retained by Sheriff Listi as a source of emergency rescue unit which was exclusively used for saving people’s lives in the case of highway accidents and any emergency natural disasters. (LPSO, 2019)
This paved a way for the Sheriff’s Office to conduct their job in the most efficient way during any disaster. In 1984, Sheriff Donald Breaux was elected and he continued to the works by upgrading the equipment and technology within the Sheriff’s Office. Unlike Listi’s “Angel of Mercy Vehicle” he established a vehicle that was equipped with a tracking system for the patrol units. This was used to warrant a well-organized way of dispatching inside and outside communication calls in the agency as efficiently as possible.
In 2000, Sheriff Michael Neustrom was elected, and he continued to uphold the Lafayette Parish Sheriff Office’s advancement in technology by modernizing the computer systems and the communication within the agency (LPSO,2019). He also enacted two programs such as High School Law Enforcement Academy and the After-School Tutoring Program (LPSO,2019). The sole purpose of these programs was to combat juvenile delinquency and help serve the community. In 2015, Sheriff Mark T. Garber was elected and sworn into office in 2016 and is currently the sheriff. He is well educated and had various job experiences. The following are some of his job experiences, Wild Life and Fisheries in Louisiana, Police officer in Arlington,TX, he worked in patrol, traffic enforcement, FTO(Field Training Officer, Police Sniper and Special Operations (Arlington’s version of SWAT team leader), Secret Service, and battlefield interrogator as part of a Special Operations Task Force in Iraq. (Mentor Program Bios, 2019).
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction over the entire parish of Lafayette with exceptions to the areas that are serviced by the local city police. The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office falls under the agency of enforcement and corrections and is considered at the local level of jurisdiction within the parish of Lafayette. The headquarters is located near downtown Lafayette, LA. The Lafayette Sheriff’s job is quite diverse and includes many different duties. They consist of five divisions, Administration, Corrections, Administrative Services, Support Services, and Enforcement. Each division consists of units and subunits. For example, the enforcement division includes various units such as the uniform patrol, criminal investigations, narcotics investigations, communications, K-9-unit, contract security, field training officers, civil enforcements, and traffic escort.(LPSO, 2019).
Overall the Lafayette Sheriff’s Office employs roughly over 750 sworn and unsworn employees with roughly over 450 employees that make up the corrections division. The current chief of this agency is Sheriff Mark Garber. The chain of command is as follows: sheriff colonel which includes 4 majors (the personnel human resources, corrections, administration, enforcement), the captains, lieutenants, sergeants, staff sergeants (enforcement), corporal, deputies, clerks, administrative assistants. The employees’ work shifts at the Lafayette Sheriff’s Office varies. There are some who work rotating shifts that are 12-hour shifts from 6 a.m.to 6 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. I will now break down the units and subunits of each division.
The enforcement division is made up of many units such as, uniform patrol, LPSO Narcotics Unit, Criminal Investigations, Crime Prevention and Community Liaison, and Victim Services. (LPSO, 2019). Under each unit there are various components that make up the duties in each unit. In uniform patrol is responsible for answering any service calls that are both urgent and non-urgent. They investigate incidences involving traffic accidents and respond to calls for reinforcements from six different municipalities within Lafayette Parish. There are six municipalities that make up the parish of Lafayette, and they are, Broussard, Carencro, Duson, Lafayette, Scott, and Youngsville. (LCG, 2019). The uniform patrol section includes units such as patrol shifts, communications, K-9, Marine Services, Accident Investigation Team (AIT), and the Dive Team. The patrol shifts of the enforcement division have four shifts of patrol personnel. During my time in patrol there was always a Lieutenant ranked Watch Commander on shift, three Staff Sergeants who are field supervisors, and other deputies on shift who are assigned to three different zones (by district). Those three zones are North, South, and Central. I have had the opportunity to do multiple ride-a longs in all three zones.
During my ride along I have witnessed deputies assisting calls with discretion because sometimes unpredictable situations may arise when dealing with individuals on the streets. Every deputy’s duty is to respond to calls for services that are both urgent and non-urgent. They also have the duty of managing Patrol and Radar requests based on a Geo Statistical method of policing (LPSO, 2019). Every patrol unit is equipped with high tech equipment used by the patrol deputies. There is laptop on board, equipped with a GPS, stationary and moving radar, and camera recording equipment used for evidence purposes. (Lafayette Sheriff Office,2019) Their unit is also equipped with their rifles, radios, and other equipment needed inside of their unit.
During my time in patrol I have seen the laptops being used frequently for many purposes. When calls are made communications part of enforcement helps provide dispatch services for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office and all municipalities. (LPSO,2019). The LPSO Narcotics Unit is part of the enforcement division. Their job is to ensure the safety of Lafayette Parish by implementing ways to combat illegal narcotics activities within the community. Their responsibilities involve both long- and short-term investigations revolving around the trafficking and organization of narcotics. (LPSO,2019).
They are agents trained in being undercover, case management, surveillance, and other proficient investigative work. Although I have spent no time with the Narcotics Unit, I have gotten the chance to hear stories about it from deputies from my time in patrol. During my ride along in patrol there have been talks of increase drug related crimes especially with people moving in from Texas. They were able to keep surveillance on a house suspected of drug dealing. This type of tactic used is called direct patrol, where they were able to deter the crime before it happened. They sometimes go undercover and pretend they want to buy drugs in order to continue investigating further.
Usually the person they buy the drugs from is not the “boss” of the entire drug trafficking organization. So, they often befriend the drug dealers in order to get to the root of the issue. As an outcome of these issues, the Narcotics Unit have been trying their best to eliminate drug organizations and those who are involved or in control of drug operations by identifying and arresting them. On the Lafayette Parish website there is a form that citizens can use to fill out anonymously to report any illegal drug activity they may have witnessed. The LPSO Narcotics unit used to cooperate with the Lafayette Police Department as a Metro Narcotics Task Force, but the LPD has split up from LPSO in 2018 in order to provide more street enforcement.
The Criminal Investigations Division (CID) includes detectives who investigate crimes involving persons, property, and juvenile crimes. They also have other units that cooperate with the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) to make things run smoother. The other units are AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System), Metro Forensic Investigations, Cold Case Investigator, Intelligence Unit, and Crime Analyst. (Lafayette Sheriff Office,2019). The Criminal Investigations is governed by the CID commander. Their main responsibilities are to adjudicate various follow up investigations of mainly felony crimes.
The first type of investigative job in Criminal investigations is crime against persons, they are responsible for arranging investigations regarding personal injury or any malfeasance against the person. This also includes sex crimes such as rape or sexual assault. I have had the opportunity to spend time with Detective Tavin Duhon who works in CID persons. The job is tedious, and nothing can be overlooked in the case that they have to go to court to testify. In CID property, their job is to coordinate investigations regarding theft, larceny, arson, burglary, vehicle theft, and any loss of property. In CID Juvenile crimes they investigate crimes that involve juvenile suspects and victims. Often the suspects are a result of delinquency and the victims are either an abused or neglected child. AFIS helps assist the detectives when it comes to fingerprints, mugshots, fingerprint ID cards, and photo line-ups. They are responsible for quality control and verifying fingerprints and other data involving 56 Live scans in 25-oparish area 24 hours a day. (LPSO,2019).
The Metro Forensics Investigations is where the collaboration of both Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Lafayette Police Department’s investigators oversee investigations throughout the city and parish. The Crime Scene Unit’s obligation is to assist investigators with investigations and to collect and preserve physical evidence retrieved from the crime scenes, accidents, and other scenes that need investigating. Those working at the Crime Scene Unit have been trained to use advanced techniques for fingerprint lifting, latent print examinations, advance photography techniques, and chemical testing. (LPSO, 2019).
Unfortunately, I did not get to meet a cold case investigator during my internship, but their job is to basically investigate all cold cases that have been appointed. The Crime Analysts’ job is to collect and analyze information correlating with crime patterns. They target and track down specific suspects to the crimes and areas of high crime. They then distribute that information to the proper personnel and agencies. The information that they take is then evaluated by the analyst to make sure that they are legitimate, valuable, and applicable. The Intelligence Unit collects and propagate information and intelligence on crimes that are organized and immoral and other specialized criminal activities. (LPSO,2019).
Community service unit is also a part of enforcement which is responsible for the public safety of the community. They provide community services to citizens. They provide various resources for the public such as Autism resources, victim services, safety tips, community outreach, and plenty of community resources. The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office provided education to the Deputies on making contact, the safety measures, and ways to get close to those with Autism in order to ensure the safety of those involved in situations that they may need to assist.
The Victim’s Services offer services for those who were a victim of any homicide ranging from 1st degree murder to solicitation for murder, felony offenses anywhere from aggravated battery, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, extortion, robbery of any kind, terrorism, or home invasion. Resources are also available for those victims of any sexual or domestic offenses such as rape of all degrees, sexual battery of all degrees, crime against nature, intentional exposure to AIDS virus, human trafficking, and domestic abuse battery. (LPSO, 2019).
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