Although candidate qualifying for the Bossier City Marshal’s election isn’t until late August, it appears likely that only two candidates will vie for the seat. Shreveport Deputy Marshal Carl Richard was briefly profile here last week; today Bossier City Deputy Marshal Jim Whitman discusses his plans for the office.
As most know, the City Marshal’s office is responsible for courtroom security and service of legal papers – including the seizure of property, and whatever else the City Court mandates. But Whitman explained that the Bossier Marshal’s office also includes a regionally noted cyber crimes unit, which has long processed cell phones and computers for a number of law enforcement agencies.
“Things are changing and evolving,” Whitman said. “Some other agencies are doing their own work, which is a good thing – the more people you have involved, the less backlog you have, the faster your case can go. We’ve taken more of an evidence and retrieval role, but we still go out and participate on stings; we just had a big one this weekend that was nationwide in human trafficking.”
Whitman said he would like to expand the Marshal’s office a little more in that direction because what’s been found is that “…internet crimes against children and child pornography are just the tip of the iceberg … and that the two are overlapping a lot with the kids being prostituted.”
And he said that human trafficking is becoming one of the most profitable of illegal activities.
As a result, Whitman would add a deputy to the Marshal’s staff in the cyber crime unit. Whitman also distinguished between the Marshal’s cyber crime unit and the state Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).
“We’re affiliates of ICAC, just like the Bossier PD and Bossier Parish Sheriff – the task force is comprised of all these different law enforcement agencies throughout the nine-parish region here in north Louisiana.”
Whitman also sees a need to upgrade the Marshal’s vehicle fleet. He said that the fleet still includes some Ford Crown Victorias, and they will likely be replaced with either Chevy Tahoes or Suburbans. And the plan includes following the city’s lead of moving to using CNG or alternative fuel vehicles.
“A lot of times our deputies carry a lot of gear, especially the deputies in the cyber crimes unit,” Whitman said, explaining the larger vehicles. He said the Suburbans can be outfitted with larger CNG tanks. “We want to just try to make it cheaper to run our vehicles.”
Whitman said he would also work to upgrade some of the equipment used in the cyber crimes unit, in the lab. “Technology moves on and you have to keep up with it – after a period of time equipment to process cell phones and computers becomes obsolete and won’t keep up with changes in new phones and computers,” he said.
In an interview earlier this year with Whitman, he discussed the Marshal’s Bench Warrant Task Force – a cooperative effort between the Marshal’s office and Bossier City Police Department. He updated the work of the task force: “We ran warrants back to 2011, but got to the point where we had stale warrants. You get to a point of stale warrant – they no longer live at the address, so we don’t have the task force running on a regular basis. What I’d like to do if elected is run the warrant task force about quarterly – it is not a full-time job.”
Whitman said that stale warrants are a common issue with most law enforcement agencies that serve warrants. And he discussed the process by which the warrants are processed for service.
“It takes time to get caught up, but when you do, you just have deputies sitting around waiting for the next batch.” And he noted that those deputies cost an average of $71,000 per year.
Whitman is a 10-year Marshal’s office veteran, as well as a military veteran. He and wife Vicky and their family have lived in the Bossier City area for nearly 40 years.
Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. She may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org