More LACE Woes

DPSO sheriff, deputies agree to hand over files but auditors continue court battle

Vickie Welborn – KTBS TV3 Shreveport

The DeSoto Parish sheriff weeks ago said he and nine current and former employees are making their personnel files available to state auditors who are reviewing allegations of abuse in a program where law officers moonlight doing traffic enforcement. But that has not stopped a court battle.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office has asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that ruled any future court disputes should be decided in DeSoto Parish, not East Baton Rouge Parish, where auditors work. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal earlier this month declined to hear an appeal from the auditors.

The files are in dispute in connection with an investigation being conducted by state auditors into a ticket-writing program called LACE, or Local Agency Compensation Enforcement, where the state pays deputies overtime to do traffic enforcement. Some deputies have been caught padding their overtime.

State auditors have been in DeSoto Parish off-and-on since late last year looking at the LACE participation of several agencies that benefit from the program.

Suspected LACE abuses occurred during the administration of DeSoto Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle, who resigned earlier this year. Arbuckle discontinued his deputies’ participation in the LACE in the spring of 2017 after District Attorney Gary Evans assumed administration of the program and began diverting revenue from tickets to his office and away from other public entities.

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