Red Church community leaders want thugs and drugs out
Narcotics activity, loud vulgar music blasting periodically in the neighborhood, random gun shots fired in the air, and out-of-control weekend parties are just a few of the concerns on a list from residents living in the Red Church community in Destrehan.
At a town hall meeting attended by Parish President V. J. St. Pierre, District 1 Councilman Billy Raymond and St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne, residents voiced their concerns about these issues and heard what parish officials had to say about possible solutions.
The complaints focused mostly on the behavior of residents on Meadows Drive, which runs parallel to and west of Longview Drive.
After two shootings occurred on Meadows Drive this year, including a drive-by shooting of a teen with an AK-47 assault rifle, residents have reason to be concerned.
“First, let me say clearly that I do not believe all residents of Meadows are causing problems,” Champagne said. “As always, it is a certain ‘few’ that are causing problems.
“It is also important to note that I am sure there are some decent people who live on Meadows Drive,” Champagne said. “Unfortunately, there are also some who are not so decent and seem to welcome criminals to visit from the New Orleans area. This has increased since Hurricane Katrina.”
Champagne says some residents have in fact harbored wanted criminals from other areas.
“We have even made some arrests in the last two years of wanted fugitives who were hiding out in the area based upon anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers,” he said. “It is also noteworthy that Meadows has been a problem street for some time. It seems the activity will come and go. We will get few, if any, complaints for weeks and then get a series of them. I think the transient nature of some individuals is behind this cycle.”
Champagne and parish deputies are working well with the community to bring the problem under control.
After hearing from the residents, Champagne presented them a list of arrests and actions the department has taken on Meadows in the last several months, the most dramatic being the recent arrest of an “assault rifle toting” gangster who posted his video on MySpace.
Red Church residents also believe that there is a need for more state police road blocks on River Road and Interstate Highway 310.
“This will help with people going to purchase drugs on Meadows Drive,” one resident suggested.
Speeding on Longview Drive was also brought up at the meeting.
Because of their concerns with drivers speeding, residents would like a traffic light in the area near Longview Drive and River Road.
“We have continued to enforce traffic violations on Longview and in the area,” Champagne said. “I even brought copies of hundreds of traffic citations written in that area in the last year to this recent meeting.”
Champagne says he plans to take action.
“As a result of the recent meeting, which focused on Meadows Drive, we will increase our enforcement efforts in the area and target the problems that are occurring there,” Champagne said. “I am confident that this action will solve these problems. I have written a letter to all residents in the area describing this action.”
Councilman Billy Raymond says he plans to remain close with the community.
“I have not scheduled another town hall meeting at this time,” Raymond said. “However, the residents are establishing their civic association and I asked them to have me on their agenda. This way we can count on that as a mechanism for consistent interaction for issues.”
Raymond praised the Red Church community leaders and residents for taking steps to improve the situation.
“I think this is one step in the right direction to show the residents that the different groups of government are working together to keep all areas in St. Charles Parish a place where people want to raise their families and not have many of the fears discussed at the meeting,” he said.
About 40 residents attended the town hall meeting.