Below is the District Attorney’s Press Release regarding this Domestic Violence event. Below also please watch WWL-TV news video coverage and the full event via the New Orleans Advocate’s FB Live.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 25, 2018
COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced Thursday (Oct. 25) that 12 local and state agencies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, outlining how they will work together to respond to domestic violence cases in St. Tammany Parish.
Montgomery held a press conference outside his second-floor office at the Justice Center to introduce the new team, called the St. Tammany Domestic Violence Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT). Standing with Montgomery were representatives from all of the partner agencies, including all local law enforcement agencies, the St. Tammany Parish Clerk’s Office, Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, Louisiana Probation and Parole, and Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Program.
Montgomery said the goal of the partnership is to ensure that victim support and safety are prioritized throughout the legal process and that there is a just and swift outcome. Ultimately, the CCRT aims to reduce domestic violence in St. Tammany. Last year, nearly half of the homicides in unincorporated St. Tammany involved domestic violence.
The CCRT will standardize the way law enforcement agencies respond to domestic violence and assure smooth access to services that enhance the safety and privacy of domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The agreement spells out the roles, responsibilities, and confidentiality obligations of the partner agencies, as well as how the partners will share information.
A key component of the agreement will be the development of a High Risk Team among the partners to review high-risk offenders for prosecution. The team will meet regularly to determine charges and conditions of supervised release, assess safety measures for the victim, and review available resources to assist.
The St. Tammany CCRT is modeled after a similar partnership initiated in 2005 in Ouachita Parish, involving the District Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement agencies and community partners. Afterwards, reports of domestic and dating violence in Ouachita Parish dropped by nearly 48 percent, according to local media reports. Between 2010 and 2014, domestic violence homicides there dropped 70 percent.
Assistant District Attorney Collin Sims, Chief of the Criminal Division, began putting together the team in St. Tammany about seven months ago. In addition to Montgomery, the following officials also signed the Memorandum of Understanding: Sheriff Randy Smith, Mandeville Police Chief Gerald Sticker, Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal, Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz (who has since resigned), Pearl River Police Chief Johnny “JJ” Jennings, Folsom Police Chief Beau Killingsworth, Madisonville Police Chief Barney Tyrney, St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court Melissa R. Henry, Wendy Griffith of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, Thomas Bickham of Louisiana Probation and Parole, and Safe Harbor Executive Director Kim Kirby. Interim Covington Police Chief Stephen Culotta also attended to show his support for the partnership.
Parish President Pat Brister’s Office and Covington Mayor Mike Cooper presented proclamations, recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The press conference ended with an acknowledgment of the 10 homicide victims of domestic violence over the past year. Sheri Eastridge of Safe Harbor read each name, followed by a soft ringing of a bell.