LIVINGSTON - The Livingston Parish Council continues to give the sheriff's office some teeth.
In this case, the parish council Thursday night passed an ordinance which allows Sheriff Jason Ard and his deputies to fine, and possibly jail, individuals or groups who are on parish waterways while they are closed.
The penalties for non-compliance include the following:
- A fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00) for the first offense and/or incarceration of up to (5) five days
- A fine of one thousand dollars ($1000.00) for the second offense and/or incarceration of up to seven (7) days
- May be liable for any damages caused by said actions or inactions
According to members of the ordinance committee, the sheriff had no means of recourse if his office and deputies caught boaters on the water during closures.
"They just have to ask them to get off the water," said ordinance committee chairman Garry 'Frog' Talbert, "and they didn't have to comply, they could just wave and drive off."
"Or (boaters) could give 'em the finger," another committee member added.
The choice to close waterways typically comes after heavy rains cause the water to rise so that channels are not easily recognized, or currents are increased due to extra water and are more dangerous. This includes rivers, lakes, byous, canals, and creeks.
Waterways are also closed during extreme weather events.
The determination on whether waterways in Livingston Parish will close comes from the Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security director Mark Harrell. In some cases the waterways are closed as a group effort between Harrell's office and the sheriff, depending on the circumstance.