How nice. If you visit this small city’s website, you’ll learn that Winnfield, Louisiana was named Louisiana’s top Home Town in February 2001.
A great home town is a place with deep roots. Great home towns have well-attended churches, lively places to meet, handsome historic buildings and lots of locally owned businesses. Their residents are devoted to the Power of Place – and now, a new company has measured that power for every place in the United States.
I took a look at ePodunk’s statistical sources for this honor, which center up on “rootedness” and “civic engagement”. All very nice, but I think they should have done a bit more research into Winnfield — a quiet little backwater where the coroner’s unpopular rulings have led him to keep his weapon on his hip, even while seated at his desk. From the Chicago Tribune:
Here in the birthplace of two of Louisiana’s most colorful and notorious governors–Huey and Earl Long–the police chief committed suicide three years ago after losing a close election marred by allegations of fraud and vote-buying.
Just four months later, the district attorney killed himself after allegedly skimming $200,000 from his office budget and extorting payments from criminal defendants to make their cases go away.
The current police chief is a convicted drug offender who got a pardon from Edwin Edwards, the former Louisiana governor who is serving time in federal prison for corruption convictions.
Ah yes, those Louisiana politics. So quirky and quaint. All part of that small town ambiance. From CNN:
A police officer shocked a handcuffed Baron “Scooter” Pikes nine times with a Taser after arresting him on a cocaine charge.
He stopped twitching after seven, according to a coroner’s report. Soon afterward, Pikes was dead.
Now the officer, since fired, could end up facing criminal charges in Pikes’ January death after medical examiners ruled it a homicide.
Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish coroner, told CNN the 21-year-old sawmill worker was jolted so many times by the 50,000-volt Taser that he might have been dead before the last two shocks were delivered.
Williams ruled Pikes’ death a homicide in June after extensive study.
The coroner’s June homicide ruling, btw, comes six months after the incident, and the taser-happy officer, Scott Nugent, still has not been charged, though he was fired, finally, in May.
Six months later, the Winnfield police are standing by [their original] story. Meanwhile, the Louisiana State Police are investigating the case, and no charges have been filed against Nugent or two other Winnfield police officers who assisted him in arresting Pikes, although the City Council did decide to fire Nugent from the force in May.
Winn Parish District Atty. Chris Nevils says he expects to present the case to a grand jury after he receives the results of the state police investigation.
Once can’t help but wonder what a grand jury will choose to do with this, considering the Winnfield Civil Service Board met yesterday, and couldn’t decide whether or not Nugent should be rehired — a real mind-boggler, considering his prior record with Taser use.
In the year since Winnfield police received Tasers, officers have used them 14 times, according to police records — with 12 of the instances involving black suspects. Ten of the 14 incidents involved Nugent, who has no public disciplinary record.
So — just another sad Taser story in the hands of a Big Badge Fever cop… right?
But Winnfield police Lt. Chuck Curry said race “isn’t an issue at all” in the matter.
“This has come down to a police officer that was trying to apprehend a suspect that they had warrants for,” he said. “He done what he thought he was trained to do to bring that subject into custody. At some point, something happened with his body that caused him to go into cardiac arrest or whatever.”
Something happened indeed…
Had ePodunk looked a bit deeper at their idyllic spots, in fact, they might have decided to add more criteria. Because there seem to be some real problems in this little slice of America. From City-Data.com:
Unemployment rate for White non-Hispanic males: 6.8%
Unemployment rate for White non-Hispanic females: 7.1%
Unemployment rate for Black males: 21.6%
Unemployment rate for Black females: 13.7%
Under the circumstances, it’s pretty hard to believe race “isn’t an issue at all”.