New Ordinance Governing Outdoor Events

It started out as a group of amendments to the parish policy on “Special Events” and ended up as an ordinance governing those events. 

A little background.  For some time, there have been discussions and a workshop at the DeSoto Parish Police Jury concerning trail rides and other events, just what those events are, security for those events, who pays and who has to get a permit.  What are the rules that would govern such events?  It came to a head at the Police Jury Policy and Procedures Committee meeting on Monday night.

The meeting agenda listed five items dealing with special events definitions, sizes, who could apply, and enforcement of the policy.  These were all proposed modifications to the present policy in place.

Most of the discussion centered on Trail Rides although the policy was expanded to “Special Events” including outdoor music events, carnivals, trail rides, car shows, fund raising events and similar activities.

First point of contention was an amendment to remove questioning whether a permit applicant had a felony conviction.  Terry Burford questioned the deletion of that question.  Burford also had questions about event security and safety.  She asked the police jury to let the Sheriff’s Department do their job and determine the number of security personnel for these events.

Next up was Charlotte Miller, President of the Historic Grand Cane Association.  She said she had traveled to several events across the country and people she talked to only remembered Grand Cane for the trouble at a trail ride there last year.  Miller said, “There is no procedure for next year trail ride.  I want to be protected.”

A member of the Big W Trail Ride spoke about a coming trail ride the group is planning at Grand Cane.  Javeron Walker told the jury, “We are working with the mayor of Grand Cane to have a parade in route.  I understand your concern, but I don’t think the Mayor of Grand Cane would be on board if there was a danger.”  Walker added, “We have had discussions to make sure none of these things occur.  If allowed to have the ride, what we need to do, we will get done.”

On the subject of security, there was an amendment to say the Sheriff’s Office, or a licensed security team shall provide security if the event has 200 people or more.  The enforcement section was amended to provide for violators of the policy to face up to a $500 fine or up to 30 days in jail.

The jury’s attorney, D A Charles Adams spoke up on the enforcement portion.  Adams said, If there are to be fines or jail time for violation it needs to be an ordinance instead of a jury policy. I cannot enforce a policy.  And the jury cannot hold court.”

The committee voted to approve all five updates to the policy and forward the matter to the full Jury.

After the committees had finished their work, there was a special meeting of the full Police Jury.  And one of the items on the agenda was the “Special Events” policy updates.  Juror Reggie Roe moved to make it an ordinance instead of a policy.  Roe said, “There is no need to have a policy if (the police jury) can’t enforce it.  It will need to be an ordinance to be enforced.”

The full jury voted on making the policy into an ordinance and then passed it.  Final vote was 6 to 3.

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