Between the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Plaquemine Police Department, there will be well over 60 local law enforcement officers on the streets of the city this Sunday night when the Krewe of Comogo parade runs.
Sheriff Brett Stassi, Police Chief Kenny Payne and Assistant Police Chief Robert “Robbie” Johnson said they will actually have more officers keeping the city safe during the night parade because of the assistance they receive from the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the St. Gabriel’s and Addis’s police departments.
“We are fortunate with security for Comogo in that we have such a close working relationship with the Plaquemine Police Department,” Stassi said.
“It’s a challenge but it’s worth it,” he continued. “It brings some notice to Iberville Parish and the city gets some good publicity out of it.”
The parade officially begins at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church on Main Street. City police officers are responsible for securing Eden Street to La. 75, or Belleview Road, at which point deputies with the Sheriff’s Office take over.
Both department heads said Comogo has normally been a quiet, incident-free parade, possibly because of the high visibility of law enforcement. Plaquemine Mayor Ed Reeves agreed.
“I’ve been the pacesetter for that parade since its inception,” he said. “Even with crowds we estimate to be as big as 10,000 – and it grows larger every year – we never seem to have any trouble.”
“Comogo has always been very peaceful,” said Johnson, who is in charge of the city’s organization of law enforcement for the parade. “People know we don’t tolerate any trouble in Plaquemine. The police chief and the sheriff have zero tolerance for violence so we don’t have any trouble.”
Despite its quiet nature, Comogo is not without its security issues.
“What’s challenging is that it’s just like a Baton Rouge or a New Orleans parade because it’s just that deep with people,” Johnson said. There’s people parked all the way to Railroad Avenue on the side streets and Railroad is lined on both side with parallel parked cars.”
“We have people that come in from Baton Rouge and other places so it just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” he continued. “From the beginning of the parade route to the end, it’s eight or nine people thick in places.”
Stassi said one of the few problems the city faces during Comogo is late arriving parade-goers.
“We try to wait until the last minute to put the roadblocks up to let people get in and out but once they’re up, that’s it – the streets are closed,” he said, adding La. 1 is blocked off around 6:30 p.m. and Belleview at 7.
“A lot of times, people get there late and that’s bad for them,” Stassi said. “Before the roadblocks go up you need to be at your destination because you’re going to have gtrouble getting into the city once the parade route is blocked off.”
“We’re asking the public to get to their positions prior to 7 p.m. when the parade starts because soon after that, Belleview is shut down,” he continued. “Even on the Belleview, if they’re in their positions prior to 7 p.m. they’ll be in good shape.”
After the parade is over – Comogo takes about two hours to run its route – deputies escort the floats back to where they belong down Enterprise Boulevard and ending up at the Comogo storage buildings off Main Street.
“They say it’s a community parade, but it’s more of a community gathering,” Johnson said. “They’ll be barbecuing and partying and drinking until the late hours, all the way up until we start breaking it up and telling them it’s over, you’ve got to go home.”