Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack today announced his candidacy for re-election in the Saturday, October 22 election. Waguespack was first elected in 1999 and has served continuously since taking office in 2000.
"Through the proactive efforts of the dedicated men and women of this office and support from local, state, federal and corporate partners, your sheriff's office continues to make great strides towards fulfilling our mission of keeping Assumption Parish safe and fostering an environment where businesses can prosper, providing jobs and economic opportunities to local people, Waguespack said. "We will always be available 24/7, ready, willing and able to respond to any complaint, threat or emergency that may face the citizens of our parish. Waguespack pointed to the "Ongoing progress made in taking care of the greatest asset of the department - the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect you. Since taking office, he has worked to increase the average base salary of deputies by 34 percent and to enhance benefit and retirement programs. "Our thorough recruiting, training and educational efforts have paid off as we have increased the number of full-time, P.O.S.T. (Peace Officers Standards and Training) certified deputies by 83 percent. Waguespack also noted that during his current term, two captains in the office have graduated from the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia, the first-ever sheriff's office personnel to complete the world-class training at the nation's most prestigious law enforcement institute.
Waguespack said major improvements to enhance public safety efforts continue with a planned 80 bed addition to the Assumption Parish Detention Center. "Working with our police jury partners, we secured $1.7 million in federal funding to pay for this addition, which will eliminate any overcrowding issues and reduce the cost of having inmates held outside the parish.
The sheriff's office communication network and dispatch center have undergone major upgrades. A new, 700 megahertz system enables department personnel to be in contact with all agencies responding to a disaster or public safety event. Working in partnership with Louisiana State Police and the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the sheriff's office secured $400,000 in state-funded equipment to ensure parish and statewide communication coverage. Through cooperation with a corporate partner, vital radio equipment has been placed on a 320 foot tower for $1 a month.
"These upgrades to our office and enhancements to our deputy training programs have greatly benefitted the citizens of Assumption, Waguespack said. "In 2008 when hurricanes Gustav and Ike ravaged the parish, our team worked in harmony with the unified command group and successfully made timely, critical decisions to prepare for, evacuate before and recover after the storms. When the oil well in Paincourtville blew out in 2010, we successfully secured the area and made sure life and property was protected for three weeks. During this year's flood threat, deputies and inmates worked around the clock on flood protection, reducing the threat to property. We have established excellent working relationships with outside agencies and continually make resources available to our parish and citizens in times of need.
Waguespack cited the progress his office has made in stopping the illegal drug trade in Assumption. "Distribution of narcotics and related substance abuse is the biggest cause of crime and continues to destroy families, he said. "Our narcotics task force continues to aggressively pursue those responsible for the illegal drug trade and I am proud of the fact that we are making a record number of drug arrests and getting career criminals off our streets. Waguespack cited his office's January, 2011, "Operation Get a Real Job, as evidence of the department's success in fighting drugs. "64 people were arrested for distribution of dangerous substances and many of these suspects have already been convicted and are behind bars. We will continue to work closely with our District Attorney and Judicial System to hold drug dealers accountable for the lives they destroy while doing everything we can to assist the victims of substance abuse in their efforts to find a successful course of treatment and rehabilitation.
During his tenure as sheriff, Waguespack has overseen the opening and staffing of sheriff's office substations in Bayou L'Ourse, Labadieville and Pierre Part. "Besides the public safety component of placing law enforcement personnel throughout the parish and reducing our response times, these stations make it more convenient for citizens to pay their property taxes, file criminal complaints and receive public service announcements. We plan to open a fourth substation in the Belle Rose area, sharing space with the planned Assumption Parish Library once it is constructed.
As part of the ongoing effort to further strengthen the lines of communication between the sheriff's office and citizens of Assumption, the department's website, assumptionsheriff.com, has been significantly upgraded. The latest law enforcement news, a sex offender registry, public safety advisories, registration for emergency alerts and information on the department's many community-related activities are now just a computer click away.
The time needed for a deputy to acquire a search or arrest warrant has been drastically reduced as a new, Internet-based system is in place. Inmate work crews pick up litter, provide clean-up after festivals and sporting events and perform maintenance at parish and school board buildings, saving considerable taxpayer money.
Keeping schools and children safe is a hallmark of Waguespack's tenure as sheriff. School Resource Officers provide safety and a truancy officer is provided to the school board to ensure that children are in the classroom. With the assistance of the police jury and school board, the office sponsors a three-week Sheriff's Summer Camp for 400 to 500 parish youth for the past 11 years. "These outreach efforts allow young people to interact with law enforcement personnel in a relaxed setting, building trusting relationships that can last a lifetime, Waguespack said.
"A senior citizen outreach program has been established where a deputy visits with elderly people, many who are living alone, Waguespack said. "We will continue to take every opportunity available to ensure the safety of our older citizens, as they are the ones who have laid the groundwork to build Assumption Parish into the great place it is today.
Waguespack said that through sound financial management and the creation of professional working relationships with its partners, "Your sheriff's office has made many of these improvements without asking for any new taxes. He said the office has secured more than $2.25 million in federal grant money and reimbursements, allowing it to supplement salaries and purchase new crime-fighting and public safety equipment.
"It is an honor to serve you as sheriff and if re-elected I will continue the great progress we have made in our constant efforts to keep the parish safe, Waguespack said. "I would sincerely appreciate your vote and support.
Waguespack was appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal to the Governor's Drug Policy Board, where he currently serves as chairman. He is the past president of the Metropolitan Law Enforcement District.
Waguespack was elected by his peers to serve as Secretary/Treasurer of the Louisiana Sheriff's Association, putting him in line to become president of the organization in 2014. He serves on several of the association's committees and boards including the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association Executive Committee, Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension and Relief Fund, Louisiana Sheriffs' Association Law Enforcement Program, Finance Committee and Health Insurance Committee. Waguespack is a member of The Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association, The National Sheriff's Association and the current Chairman of AMIKids, which helps at-risk young people become productive citizens.
An LSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, Waguespack also earned designation as a Certified Public Accountant.
He is a member of the Knights of Columbus (Fourth Degree), Assumption Area Chamber of Commerce, Pierre Part-Belle River Business Group and many other business and professional organizations. Waguespack and his family are parishioners of St. Anne Catholic Church.
He has been married to Elaine Toups Waguespack for 18 years and they are the parents of two children; Megan 13 and Sydney 10.