Safety urged as days of revelry arrive

By JEAN L. McCORKLE jkaess@daily-review.com

Patterson Chief of Police Patrick LaSalle has a piece of advice for visitors and parade goers in Patterson that he says applies throughout the parish as the parades and pageantry of Mardi Gras approaches.
“Be careful, have a good time, but remember to respect your neighbors and the law,” LaSalle said.
LaSalle said he is concerned over Facebook postings he has seen that appear to indicate there are those who plan to attend Patterson festivities and think there will be an “anything goes” atmosphere.
Patterson police will be out in full force to ensure the crowds do not become rowdy and pose a threat to the security of others, especially during the official parade hours of 2 to 6 p.m. on Monday.
After 6 p.m., Patterson police will be instructed to make sure things return to normal by enforcing applicable ordinances and laws such as no loud music or drinking alcohol in public, LaSalle said.
Alcohol, including its over indulgence, is a part of some citizens’ way of partying, especially around Mardi Gras. While it is always a good idea to have a designated driver if someone chooses to imbibe, LaSalle warns that police in Patterson will be paying more than the usual attention to drivers who may be impaired.
“Be mindful that in large crowds there are those that might take advantage of people not paying attention to their belongings. But more than paying attention to your personal effects, pay attention to your small children,” LaSalle said.
Patterson will have a rolling shut down of Main Street, from block to block, as the parade progresses. The chief did not report any extra parking restrictions.
In Morgan City, Police Chief Mike Banks said certain areas in the median along Federal Avenue will be taped and marked off prohibiting vehicle parking, particularly near the intersections with Songe and Arenz streets.
Parking will be prohibited in these areas due to work that caused the ground to become soft. Parking on these areas could result in extensive damage to the ground and vehicle. Vehicles found in the prohibited areas can be ticketed and towed, Banks said.
In Berwick, starting around 9 a.m. Saturday, Fairview Drive between Cloverdale Drive in Renwick Subdivision and Gilmore Drive will be one-way headed South toward town, Chief James Richard said.
The parade lines up on Fairview Drive. Officers will redirect residents into Renwick via La. 182, he said.
Then, La. 182 will be shut down in different sections as the parade progresses. Those sections are in the areas of Gilmore Drive, Renwick, Pattie Drive and then Tournament Boulevard. Officers will be staged at different locations for the process, Richard said.
The parade route should be clear of parked cars. Officers will patrol and ask residents to move cars on the streets into their yards for the duration of the parade. Extra officers also will be on patrol before, during and after the parade, the chief said.
“Traditionally, Berwick does not have problems. … We get a lot of help from other agencies including the (St. Mary) sheriff’s office, Iberia and others in the parish. It looks like good weather, so it all should go smoothly,” Richard said.
St. Mary Sheriff Mark Hebert said he will have deputies on patrol across the parish.
“We do ask that revelers be patient when arriving and leaving parade areas as those are the times when traffic can get congested. While at the parades, the public should not hesitate to alert law enforcement to any suspicious activity. Impaired driving is something our deputies will be on the lookout for this Mardi Gras. The public can assist us in that effort by reporting any reckless driving,” Hebert said.
Staff reporter Preston Gill contributed to this report.

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