DeSoto Parish LACE Program Corruption

DeSoto probe: Too much time and a half?

By Vickie Welborn – KTBS TV3 Shreveport

Three current DeSoto Parish sheriff’s deputies and one former deputy are under investigation for suspected abuse of overtime pay as part of their participation in a special traffic-enforcement detail.

The investigation is looking into whether they got paid for hours they didn’t work.

DeSoto Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle placed the veteran deputies on paid administrative leave this week.

They are the subjects of an internal investigation, as well as a criminal investigation that will be led by State Police. Arbuckle said he expects State Police investigators to begin their investigation next week.

Louisiana’s legislative auditor is also conducting an investigative audit into the LACE program in DeSoto Parish. Preliminary findings from that audit led to the law enforcement investigations, Arbuckle said.

LACE — or Local Agency Compensation Enforcement — is also under fire on a statewide basis as separate investigations focus on state troopers in South Louisiana who are suspected of padding their paychecks. Three troopers have been identified as subjects of that investigation. One made more than $200,000.

State auditors have been in DeSoto Parish looking at the LACE participation of several agencies that benefit from the program: the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s office, Parish Police Jury and the criminal court system.

KTBS-3 Investigates has aired several reports about LACE over the past year. Questions arose earlier last year because of a disagreement about LACE administration and the use of DA diversion programs in DeSoto Parish. District Attorney Gary Evans took over complete control of the LACE program in the parish and has been diverting most of the ticket revenue to his office.

Prior to that, ticket money from the LACE program was divvied up among 14 agencies. Evans complained the program was losing money and instead wanted to control where the money goes.

Arbuckle pulled his deputies off LACE details, leaving it to State Police troopers. Evans also signed a contract with the Mansfield Police Department.

The Police Jury last fall adopted a resolution formally asking the legislative auditor to conduct a review of the entire program. Part of that review includes verifying the hours deputies worked writing LACE tickets.

The three deputies under investigation are suspected of claiming more hours than they actually worked. The fourth person no longer works for the sheriff’s office.

LACE is a program administered by district attorneys who contract with local law enforcement agencies to focus on creating safer highways by focusing on speeders and other traffic violators.

But it also became a lucrative way for law enforcement officers to add to their paychecks through overtime pay. DeSoto deputies were paid $45 per hour to work their off-duty shifts.

State troopers benefit, too, earning time-and-a-half for their LACE work. Some of the deputies were making $20,000 or more above their regular salaries. But the troopers under the microscope in South Louisiana were racking up more, with one making an annual salary of more than $200,000 with much of it coming from LACE for hours he didn’t work.

LACE operated for decades without drawing much attention, but it has come under additional scrutiny in recent months as some district attorneys learned the program was being administered in different ways, with some using it to bolster their office revenue through ticket diversion programs.

The state’s district attorneys association has been studying those diversion programs – and in some cases how it is connected with LACE — and are working toward suggested guidance to make sure all conform with state law. The sheriffs’ association also has been doing its own review.

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7 Responses to “DeSoto Parish LACE Program Corruption”

  1. Vee Says:

    An agency that is so far out of spending control has too much tax money in its coffers. Cuts and more cuts can be made in such agencies. No need for more taxes-cut spending!

  2. Oldman Says:

    It’s gotten bad when the law enforcement boys are the bad guys,who can you trust?

  3. Hicoman Says:

    Employees only good as their supervisors in any jobs! Not all Enforcement officers bad! Where their are bad officers look for bad supervisors.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Too much time and a half, it’s ticking away with my sanity
    I’ve got too much time and a half, it’s hard to believe such a calamity
    I’ve got too much time and a half and it’s ticking away from me
    Too much time and a half, too much time and a half
    Too much time and a half.

  5. Amyprice Says:

    Anymore information on the individuals whom was stealing money this not the first time this has happened . Why conceal the police officers names ?🙄

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