(This story has been updated to correct the date of the St. Landry Parish School Board meeting.)
In the wake of the gun violence that has been happening throughout the country and in Opelousas, there was a ‘Stop The Violence’ rally in North Park. The size of the crowd was small, but the community and officials there shared how the issues in the city are a massive problem. “I know we’re small in numbers, but we’re big in problems. It’s not just in Opelousas or St. Landry Parish. We have issues all across this state and all across the nation,” said Sheriff Guidroz.
He discussed his plan to improve school safety for all St. Landry Parish schools. “I like to see every high school and every elementary school in St. Landry Parish equipped with a camera at one entrance. One main entrance to the school and anybody that comes to that door will not have free access to get in,” he said. “Have an armed guard at that door in a desk, in a chair waiting and watching.”
He shared how the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde Texas, where a 18-year-old gunman named Salvador Rolando Ramos fatally shot nineteen students and two teachers, and wounded other people. In addition to the battle they face with youth getting their hands on guns; the violence in the city inspired him to bring change. “We’re doing our very best right here in Opelousas and St Landry Parish to get rid of the guns,” said the Sheriff. “Black, Brown, White we all have to come together there no more different communities that need help. We all need to help. Words are not good enough. We have to take action.”
At the rally one of the speakers was Rodney Jenkins. He is a veteran who said he served in Iraq. He talked about the recent mass shootings in schools. “We’re looking at the school shooting that’s going on. We have kids going back to school where they got an education from and shooting to the school like it’s the school’s fault where they are today,” said Jenkins. “We have to know what our kids are doing. We have to know and I’m telling you for these kids to be dying at a rate they are dying at it’s a shame.”
Finding the funds for the cameras to be placed in the school, having electronic doors and having resource officers will be a challenge, the sheriff said. “As I understand it, three years ago, two years ago, Congress and President Biden passed legislation giving the Covid-19 and school security a hundred million dollars, and the money is still there,” said Sheriff Guidroz. “There’s still money in his budget.”
He said he will be taking notes and photos of all the schools in the parish to see for safety deficiencies and report it to the school board. “I’m going to try to get Senator John Kennedy, the U.S. Senator, our congressman from Alexandria, our local officials and get them to commit,” he said.
St. Landry School Board is scheduled to have a meeting on Thursday, June 2. The Sheriff plans to attend and share his plan.