A topsy-turvy world

It was among the more memorable things I have witnessed in this profession that chose me.

An army of cops gathered at the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office rifle range in Houma, ready to execute more than a score of warrants on people who were either initially wanted for distribution of illegal drugs, or had court appearances they had not made, and so were about to be compelled into doing so in shackles.

The sun had not yet risen.

But here they were, all standing in this big room, and they bowed their heads. Dana Coleman, chief of the Houma Police, led them all in prayer.

Among those with the bowed head was Maj. Terry Daigre. He is the commander of Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s Narcotics Division, whose job is to hunt down the bad guys in this corner of the world’s front in the war on drugs.

I had occasion to speak with him this week in connection with his division’s most recent success, the seizure of heroin and meth in Gray and some related arrests.

The haul as spectacular. Nearly $1 million worth once it’s all been properly stepped on — meaning cut to maximize profit — in terms of street value.

Terry is a quiet, humble man. Tough enough by all means, with that extra added confidence a man possesses when he knows he is doing something right.

With Terry there is no need for bravado. There is no need for showboating. The proof is in the cuffs and in the evidence bags and that’s what he cares about, seeing to it that the job is done.

It’s not that way in all jurisdictions. There are and have been people working the drug beat who were crooked, brutal and a disgrace to the badge. But not here. And not Terry.

And if how an organization handles itself starts at the top, then the top of Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s narcotics division is in fine shape.

Back on that morning what amazed me about the cops who were praying was that they weren’t just praying for their own safety, but for the safety of those they were going after too.

I don’t recall such talk in other places where I have worked and observed law enforcement. I sure hope it’s not a practice limited to this parish right here.

There is a lot of focus these days on precisely the kind of drugs that Terrebonne with the help of other agencies picked up last week, the heroin especially. Heroin is no longer just heroin. It is being cut with fentanyl — in some cases pure fentanyl — which is like saying it’s being cut with poison. And this is one reason why we have so many deaths.

Heroin addicts usually pretty much know what they’re taking and they know how much to take and they don’t tend to die — unless what they are taking is laced with something this strong, this potent.

But the people selling it don’t give a damn.

Overdoses are being seen more than ever before.

But the people selling it don’t give a damn.

And yet these people paid to catch them give a damn about them. Enough of a damn to pray for them, even.

It’s a topsy-turvy world.