Baldwin residents air complaints of police department
Complaints about the police department were the concern of several citizens at the monthly Baldwin Board of Aldermen meeting held Thursday.
Mayor Wayne Breaux and the board heard first from Amy Goins, a Baldwin resident who received a citation from Baldwin police for her barking dog. Goins stated that prior to receiving the citation a police officer went to her home, Chief Gerald Minor went to her home twice and called her and Mayor Breaux spoke to her husband, all about the barking dog.
She provided a petition signed by all of her neighbors stating that the dog does not bother them.
According to Goins, all of the complaints come from one neighbor. She went on to say that the citation she received was not signed by anyone so she does not know who issued it and she felt that she was being bullied and harassed by the police department about an issue that is not a problem.
Mayor Breaux told Goins to appear ino court on the date on the citation to discuss the matter with the complaining neighbor and hopefully the issue will be resolved.
Another resident, Shantel Shields, addressed the mayor and board and told them her neighbor asked her if it would be alright if he had the trees on her property trimmed so they would not overhang on to his property. Shields agreed.
She said that the neighbor hired a tree service and they removed her trees without her permission. She said she complained to her neighbor while the trees were being removed and he refused to have the tree service stop.
Sheilds called the police department and said an officer went to her home while the tree cutting service was still there, agreed with the neighbor and told her that if she didn’t stop harassing the neighbor and allow the tree service to do their job, that she would be arrested.
Breaux informed Shields that the removal of the tree was a civil matter and that the matter of restitution for her tree would have to be taken up in civil court.
Chief Gerald Minor informed Shields that he had spoken to the officer about the incident, informed him that his actions were inappropriate and filled a complaint about the incident.
Alderman Thor Frederick said that the mayor and board have been asking the police department to issue citations to the owners of junk cars since March and “nothing seems to be being done about it.”
Frederick said there are abandoned vehicles all over the town and questioned the police department about why they were still there.
Another concerned citizen said that the problem was not only with the junk cars, but also with the derelict properties, specifically the park on Branch Street. She said that the condition of the park, particularly the bathroom, was a health hazard for children.
“The cars are one thing, the yards are one thing…it’s like nothing’s being monitored,” Frederick said. “You don’t see any officers anywhere. I’m sick and tired of walking around town and the first complaint I get is the police department…the crime, and the bullies and the intimidation. It’s got to stop, it’s ridiculous!”
Frederick added that if someone went around from house to house asking residents what their number one complaint was it would be the police.
Chief Minor told Frederick that citations were issued to the owners of several derelict vehicles.
“Several citations were issued, then I got tied up on other stuff I had to do and I didn’t get a chance to get back on it,” Minor said. He told the board that he would go back to work on the issue.
Alderman Michael Lancelin said that the recreation committee would meet with residents to make improvements to the park on Branch Street.
In other business:
–The board approved a request by Summer Pradia to hold a memorial rally for the family of Damon Abraham.
–Breaux reported that he is working on the budget for the upcoming year and that the board would meet on June 28 at 6:30 p.m. to finalize the budget.
–Breaux said engineers are continuing to survey for the Bayou Choupique Flood Protection Project and they would have a proposal in the near future for levee work.
–Breaux reported that three houses have been completed in the Branch Street Housing Project and applications are being followed up on for other homes.
– The mayor said groundwork had begun on the Fire Station Project and the board approved an invoice to Acadian Renovations for $16,382 for the project.
–Ordinance 321 to increase water rates in the town was adopted. Breaux said that the increase was necessary and that water rates in the Town of Baldwin would still be below those of neighboring municipalities after the increase.
– The board approved two requests for resolutions by the state bond commission. One was for obtaining the old Baldwin Elementary School and the other for Workman’s Compensation insurance.
During the meeting, Alderman Anthony Gibson also said that he had never seen any of the bills for the town nor does he know how many accounts the town has. He asked that the town be audited by the state to see if there were any violations.
No action was taken.