In praise of our region’s badge

All too often we report on the work done by men and women in local law enforcement, without giving as much context as we would like. Sometimes this is due to space considerations. Sometimes it is a matter of time available, or the extent of information that law enforcement is willing to share. We don’t print everything we would wish to, in some cases just because of space considerations.

In this issue there are two stories relating particularly to men and women who wear the badge.

One case involves the burglary of a pharmacy at an Urgent Care on Corporate Drive. The case was particularly unusual because the thieves used an axe to get through a brick wall. Burglaries, as Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter noted, are not all that unusual. A Houma pharmacy had been burglarized a week before, though there were no brick walls smashed. The crime was newsworthy not just because of the temerity displayed by the thieves, but its very nature. The loot was a large quantity of narcotics, which local officials have no doubt would have found their way onto our streets and into our homes, adding to the suffering of addicts and families of addicts, as well as bolstering the underground economy of traffic in stolen guns and the violence that is part of that web.

The detectives who worked this case realized the gravity of the situation. They surmised that the thieves would likely strike again, and they were determined to see that this did not happen. Informants, community eyes and ears and technology, as our story relates, were all used in combination to crack the case. Perseverance paid off in record time.

A car was stopped and arrests were made, without injury to suspects or the police. The investigation continues and, as detectives predicted, there was a plan to knock off another pharmacy.

There are no words that can appropriately or adequately express our appreciation for the hard and rapid work that was done in this case. The detectives our report spoke with said it was all in a day’s work, as they are modestly inclined to do.

But we know better.

In another case deputies pursued and then attempted to track a man whom they could not eventually locate, although they are still making attempts to do so. Elwood Billiot is wanted for a home-invasion style robbery of a child’s belongings. He is also a person of interest in connection with a Lafayette murder that remains unsolved.

Although he is not sought in connection with that crime at this time, the potential of involvement makes his flight from the deputy who tried to pull him over on Grand Caillou Road even more disturbing.

The search of a nearby swamp was called off due to darkness and deteriorating conditions, but there’s neither harm nor foul on the part of law enforcement for that.

All indications are that what resources could be utilized were called in. Billiot will turn up somewhere, his history already gives ample indication of that. The decision to call off the search in the swamp was wise, under the circumstances. We do know that detectives have been in touch with people who know Billiot, and that safety for the officers had to be the over-riding concern here.

Our point is that the hard work done in both of these cases has been presented to readers, in greater detail than in some other cases, perhaps, but that was only because circumstances allowed greater access to information that we could relay. From the view that we have, we know that hard work is being done by law enforcement officers in the sheriff’s offices of both Terrebonne and Lafourche, as well as in the Houma Police Department and other agencies every day and every night.

Now seems as good a time as any to offer our thanks and express or admiration for the selfless work they perform. •