- Associated Press - Saturday, February 13, 2016

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Caddo Sheriff’s deputy Cpl. Jeremy Edward knows his area.

From the Texas state line to Red River, every major thoroughfare, subdivision and dirt-paved back road in north Caddo Parish are on Edward’s patrol route. Knowledge of the land and its occupants is essential to do his job effectively.

Edward has noticed his area is growing. And as it changes, so do the needs of its residents.

This, Edward says, will not only change how he does his job, but will necessitate changes throughout Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Edward has been with the sheriff’s office for 10 years, the same amount of time he’s lived in Caddo Parish. Edward fled his Jefferson Parish home as Hurricane Katrina barreled toward the Gulf Coast in August 2005. When he and his wife-to-be left their home, they had no idea it would be the last.

“When we left I just thought we’d be gone a couple of days, then we’d be back, back to our regular lives,” Edward said. “We realized that wasn’t going to happen, and I needed to find another job.”

In south Louisiana, Edward detailed cars for a living - a skill that has proven useful as he pulls out of the North Market substation in his freshly washed cruiser.

During his eight hour shift, he’s one of three deputies patrolling Area 3. He’s one of five deputies in the northern half of the parish, which also includes Areas 1 and 2.

“Blanchard, Oil City, Vivian, Mooringsport - all of it,” Edward said.

Area 3 borders north Shreveport, and includes the town of Blanchard, the most populated area patrolled by CPSO.

Edward runs a tight ship, hitting every neighborhood and subdivision on his beat and logging every duty, from pulling over a speeder to checking on a resident’s home while they’re out of town.

While running routine patrol along Highway 3049 near Dixie on Jan. 30, a call comes in for a reported shoplifter at Walmart in Blanchard. The store opened four days earlier.

“Our first-ever Walmart arrest,” Edward said.

Blanchard, like the rest of his coverage area, is growing. Along with the new Walmart, there are several other new businesses and homes showing up along once empty stretches of road. Also, the completion of Interstate 49 has introduced unfamiliar faces passing through.

“It’s good to see the area developing; I’m seeing it grow every day. But as it continues to grow, I see a need for more law enforcement out here,” Edward said.

In 2010, the four-square-mile town of Blanchard reported a population of 2,899. Since then, two new subdivisions have popped up within city limits, as well as a new tire shop and a Fred’s Pharmacy, according to town clerk Debra Smith. This doesn’t include the Walmart and other housing developments just outside the town’s borders.

Smith’s working with Louisiana State University to determine an updated population, which should be available by the summer. She said she expects a definite increase.

Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator said the opening of I-49 on the north end of the parish, down to Highway 1, has required the agency to put more traffic deputies on the streets in rural areas such as the one Edward covers with heavier traffic patrol.

“Naturally the more residents we have the more crime - and targets - there are,” Prator said. “We don’t look for violent crime to increase, but certainly with more people will come a need for more presence.”

Edward responded to the Walmart shoplifting call as backup. He was 10 minutes away. Cpl. James Norwood, also assigned to Area 3, was closest to the new store.

A longer backup response time is one of the main obstacles faced by rural officers, Prator said.

But CPSO deputies have adapted to be well equipped to control these situations on their own until backup arrives - or even until they solve the problem themselves.

“We have situations where we can’t call someone else to come do it - we have to deal with it,” Prator said. “It’s nothing for a deputy to have a chain saw in the back of his vehicle to cut up a tree that fell in the street, rather than calling somebody. We just don’t have the luxury of always having assistance right there with us.”

In the time it took Edward to get to the Walmart shoplifting call, Norwood had just about finished processing the incident.

Arriving on scene, Edward knew who the shoplifter was when he saw her children standing in front of the store.

“We’ve dealt with her several times.”

Edward knows many of Area 3’s residents, whether they ever have a brush with law enforcement or not. It’s a crucial aspect of his job, he said.

“Eyes and ears,” Edward said. “We can’t be everywhere, but there are people all over who we count on to call us if we’re needed.”

When a pair of East Texas burglars jumped state lines and disappeared into Caddo Parish while in flight on Jan. 26, Edward stopped and talked to a couple living on a small back road - a road they would likely use, he said.

The isolated residents said they hadn’t seen anyone come by, so Edward gave them his contact information and continued his search. Within the hour, the couple spotted the getaway car and called Edward - the pursuit was back on.

“We followed them down a dirt road and finally caught up with them after they stopped and were trying to ditch everything in the woods that they’d stolen,” Edward said.

What they didn’t know, and what Edward did know, is a CPSO sergeant lived on the other end of the road, and he was on his way home.

“They would’ve come right up on him,” he said.

But not every challenge can be solved with know-how; sometimes it’s simply being in the right place at the right time.

Just hours after assisting in Cumberland’s arrest, Edward noticed the driver of a red Ford pickup not wearing his seat belt. Edward pulled him over at the Super S convenience store at the intersection of Pine Hill Road and Roy Road.

In addition to not wearing his seat belt, the man didn’t have proof of insurance and the vehicle’s registration and license didn’t match. When senior deputies Chris Ardoin and Phil Nunnery arrived as backup, a swift search of the vehicle turned up drug paraphernalia. The traffic violation quickly became an arrest.

“I was gonna just to write him a summons,” Edward said. “All this because he wasn’t wearing his seat belt.”

PSO’s coverage area is approximately 780 square miles and divided into seven similarly-sized areas. Three areas are in the southern sector of Caddo and the remaining four are considered the north end. Cross Lake is considered the dividing line between the north and south sectors.

Covering these seven areas are 89 deputies. Not all of them are patrol. They include crash investigators, K-9 and supervisors, according to Prator. There are an additional 153 auxiliary deputies and 55 reserve deputies.

___

Information from: The Times, http://www.shreveporttimes.com

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