Security now triples at Vermilion Parish School Board meetings
Security has now tripled at Vermilion Parish School Board meetings over the last five years.
Five years ago there was no need for security. Two years ago one security officer was added. At the next board meeting, there is expected to be three security officers on location.
One officer outside and two inside.
Abbeville Police Chief Bill Spearman has decided to beef up security at school board meetings because of what happened at the last school board meeting.
For the last 18 months, an Abbeville Police Officer has been present at all school board meetings. The school board pays for the security officer.
An officer stands inside the meeting room and controls the crowd entering or leaving the meeting room. The officer does not control who speaks or does not speak during the meeting.
When the meeting is over and everyone walks out into the parking lot, the Abbeville Police Officer also walks out with the crowd and remains on the school board grounds until the last person leaves.
At last month’s meeting, two incidents occurred where a different security officer was needed.
In the parking lot, a school board member exchanged words with a citizen. During the exchange of words, a Sheriff Deputy, who was sitting in his Sheriff Unit in the parking lot, got out of his unit. No arrests were made.
Sheriff Mike Couvillon provided security in the parking lot for that meeting. Also, Abbeville Police Detective Lt. Jason Hebert arrived when the meeting ended and was in the parking lot.
Normally, that one security officer is in the parking lot once the meeting is over; however, Abbeville officer John Castille remained inside the meeting room because he had to defuse an argument between newly hired school board lawyer Bob Hammonds and Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s personal attorney Lane Roy.
The argument (see the video on the Vermiliontoday.com website) was stopped when Officer Castille got between the two attorneys.
After watching the video of what transpired inside the meeting room and hearing about what happened on the outside, Chief Spearman said he is adding another police officer at school board meetings.
Spearman said on Tuesday afternoon that, as long as his department is asked to work the school board meetings, he will make sure his officers are put in the best possible situation.
“I am going to have no less than two officers working each meeting,” Spearman said. “When I can, I will have three at the meeting.”
Spearman said it is about not spreading his officers too thin.
“One officer cannot cover everything,” Spearman said. “We had something going on in the hallway and something going on in the meeting room. If I didn’t have two officers there, we might have had something happen.
“If we are going to cover these meetings, we are going to do it properly with the utmost safety of everyone in mind.”
At last week’s Abbeville Council meeting, Councilman Brady Broussard Jr. commended Chief of Police Bill Spearman and his department for the way officers working the school board meeting handled a situation at the end.
“There were altercations that were prevented by your staff,” Broussard said. “That is a credit to them.”