ABBEVILLE, La. (KLFY) — Police Juror Ronald Darby of Vermilion Parish’s District 4 is concerned about Jury President Jason Picard’s decision to declare a state of emergency and impose a parish-wide curfew due to several recent shootings in Abbeville.
A state of emergency is usually declared for hurricanes or other disasters within the parish. Darby said the shootings in Abbeville do not constitute such a disaster.
“The problem I have with the parish declaring a declaration of emergency is it affects the entire parish,” Darby said. “People within the parish would think the police jury is calling a declaration of emergency and a curfew, and it affects the entire parish; nobody wants to come to the parish because they’re afraid that we have a curfew.”
When the shootings happened in Abbeville in February the city imposed a curfew. The city attorney said the city could not declare a state of emergency in the parish.
After further discussion, the question was in the hands of the police jury president. If the Police Jury could declare a state of emergency, they could enforce a curfew which could last up to 30 days.
“Calling a curfew is like locking good people down,” Darby said. “Businesses have to change their hours of operation. Those employees that have to work in the evenings lose hours, they lose money, so it affects our economy all the way around. People who come down to Vermilion Parish and dine here throughout our parish they’re not going to come if we have a state of emergency.”
Darby also feels that locking citizens down during a curfew is added stress after only recently returning to normal due to the pandemic.
“The shootings have been going on for a long time, and having a curfew, it’s not going to stop anything,” he said. “It’s going to slow it down a little bit, and then it’s going to go back to normal afterwards and then if someone wants to do something bad, they’re going to do it in the day time, night time don’t make any difference.”
Darby said each municipality has to register a 30-day curfew with the Clerk of Court in order for it to go into effect. If a municipality wants an extension, they have to go back and re-register.
Darby said they need to really look at things more closely before they decide to “lock people up in their homes and stuff.”
“We need to come together and try to help solve some of these problems that we have in our community, but a curfew is not going to solve it,” he said. “We need to really get down to the root of the problem. Find out who’s involved and what they’re doing and try to fix the problem together. I want to help them solve the problem. I’m not trying to fight against the city or anything like that, but we need to come together and try to come up with a better solution than this.”
He said he is investigating and waiting to speak to the Abbeville Mayor and City Council on the topic.
There will be a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at 320 N. Lyman St. to discuss public safety with the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office, Abbeville Police Chief Mike Hardy and Mayor Rosyln White.