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Leadership Tangipahoa

Press Releases

Date Press Release

Erica Kelt, Kathryn Edwards, and Sgt. Dennis Braziel's Letter to the Editor on the Criminal Justice Session

For Immediate Release:                                                       3/28/19
Contact:                                                                              Nick Clesi

Erica Kelt, Kathryn Edwards and Sgt. Dennis Braziel's Letter to the Editor on the Criminal Justice Session

Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Amanda Bennett, Kyle Johnson, Dennis Braziel, Roslyn Varnado, Kristen Hebert, Mark Verbois, Abigail Comeau, Angelia Beadle, Jeffery Jarreau, Jason Wilson, D'Ann Davis, Shy Henry, Erica Kelt, Sibyl Cannon, Kathryn Edwards, TPSO Capt. Kim Moore, Sheriff Daniel Edwards, TPSO Lt. Tommy Farand, Tammy Murphy, Kellie Wheat, Myra Sharpe, Mandy Lee, Nick Gagliano


Dear Editor,

The Leadership Tangipahoa class of 2019 recently spent the day learning about the Criminal Justice in the parish.  Always an eye-opening experience, this class day was indeed no different.

We started our morning at the Tangipahoa Parish CVB where we heard from Juvenile Court Judge, Blair Edwards. Serving for the 21st Judicial District, she is responsible for all cases involving juveniles for Tangipahoa, Livingston and St. Helena parish and handles matters ranging from child protection and delinquency to drug courts. She shared how the caseload has increased over the years and the importance of exploring alternative programs for juveniles outside of imprisonment. Judge Edwards shared stories of how a child's trauma can shape the rest of their life and she truly set the tone for the remainder of the day regarding having a better understanding of how early intervention can make a difference.

We then heard from District Attorney Scott Perrilloux who is responsible for the 21st Judicial District. He explained how the DA's office has the discretion as to whether to charge a person of the crime or not and the serious responsibility that comes with that. They handle criminal offenses such as misdemeanors, juvenile, drug, and property crimes. They also handle homicides and at times capital cases which he said could take many years to complete.

At the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office substation, we heard from Sheriff Daniel Edwards and several of his officers and employees. Though crime rates have been decreasing in Tangipahoa Parish, TPSO still answered over 56,000 calls last year. In keeping with the theme that early intervention is a game changer, TPSO also facilitates programs that encourage children to stay on the right path such as D.A.R.E. and the Young Marine Program.

Our next visits were to the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center and Tangipahoa Parish Jail. These experiences again highlighted the importance of early intervention. It was encouraging to speak with some of the children in the Detention Center and see that they are responding to the Detention Center's efforts to rehabilitate them. Throughout the day we had heard mixed reviews about the new "Raise the Age" law, under which 17-year-olds accused of nonviolent crimes will now be subject to the juvenile justice system. Seeing the stark contrast between the Detention Center and the Jail made clear why proponents of the law are hopeful that an additional year of access to the rehabilitation track of the juvenile system will provide an opportunity for meaningful intervention that will help keep young offenders out of the Jail.

After leaving the Tangipahoa Parish Jail, our class visited the Tangipahoa 911 Center.  The Director, Dennis Darouse, and Lt Denise Sanders, TPSO Communication Supervisor, met with our group and explained how the facility functions. It was amazing to learn that our 911 Center is the most modern 911 center in the state of Louisiana.  One of the most critical points that they stressed to us was to tell our community to sign up for Smart911, which gives 911 valuable information about yourself, family members, your home, medications, pets, and even your vehicles. These details can save responders valuable time during an emergency.  Smart911 is private, secure, and provided free to the citizens of this Parish.  After the presentation, we toured the workstation area where 911 and TPSO Communication dispatch from a single work area separated by a partition.  Once 911 receives a call, they determine where to route the call, i.e., Fire Station, Sheriff's Office, Acadian Ambulance, etc.  The workers have a mapping system that can pinpoint the location of most calls.  Our class felt that the impressive technology used in our 911 Center is a great asset to the safety of our community and its citizens.

Our next stop was visiting Amite Fire Department where we met with Chief Bruce Cutrer and members of the Fire Department.  Chief Cutrer and his firemen introduced us to the latest equipment available to help them carry out their duties.  There was a live demonstration of the use of a drone which the department has at its disposal.   This equipment would be precious in search and rescue missions as well as discovering hazards that might impede or delay the firemen in time of an emergency.  Another piece of equipment held by the fire department is the chest compression apparatus used during CPR, which has proven to give an individual a higher chance of survival. 

In closing, we would like to thank all of the hosts and speakers who took time out of their busy schedules to speak with Leadership Tangipahoa Class of 2019 on the Criminal Justice System.  It was an eye-opening experience for those individuals who do not work within the Criminal Justice field in general. It also increased our awareness on two key points that were emphasized through the day: the significant impact early intervention, or the lack of it, can have on our youth; and the challenges each area of the criminal justice system faces due to budget constraints. Our class appreciated the time we spent with all of these public servants, and we appreciate what they do for our community.

Erica Kelt, Kathryn Edwards and Sgt. Dennis Braziel
Leadership Tangipahoa Class of 2019


Erica Kelt
Director of Development
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center

Erica is from Destrehan, LA and graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and minors in Business and Theater. She has been a development officer with Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Hammond and Covington since 2016. Erica's work experience includes marketing, advertising, and public relations. She and her husband have a daughter and a new baby due in May.


Kathryn Edwards
Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal
Research Attorney

Kathryn Edwards was sponsored for Leadership Tangipahoa by her previous employer, Edwards & Stevens in Amite. She recently accepted a new position as a research attorney in the office of Judge Page McClendon, First Circuit Court of Appeals. Kathryn grew up as an "army brat" and moved to Tangipahoa Parish with her family upon her father's retirement. Kathryn is a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas in Hammond and Louisiana State University, where she obtained her bachelor's degree and a juris doctorate.

Sgt Dennis Braziel
Criminal Records Supervisor
Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Office

Dennis Braziel was sponsored to Leadership Tangipahoa by the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Office where he is currently a supervisor over the Criminal Record Department and has been employed with the agency for 13 years.  He is a lifelong resident of Tangipahoa Parish.  He was educated in the public school system and graduated from Amite High School.  He attended Southeastern Louisiana University where he obtained his BA in Criminal Justice.  He is currently pursuing his Masters in Criminal Justice with a concentration on Public Administration.