Sheriff’s Association presidency, state board highlight busy year for Stassi
The challenges of 2020 would seem to have kept Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi busy enough, but 2021 will raise the bar higher.
Stassi, now in his third term, recently was elected the next president of the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. In addition, he was among three sheriffs Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed to the Louisiana Sheriff’s Executive Institute.
Stassi, who took office in 2012, will assume the top spot for the Sheriff’s Association in July. He will succeed Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard, who also became sheriff in 2012.
Stassi was elected by the 63 other sheriffs statewide.
He heads into the role of president amid the challenges law enforcement officers have faced in every part of the country.
The duty as LSA president involve work as a liaison between sheriff’s offices and state government on issues public safety. It also focuses on the operations of sheriff’s departments, including items not limited to compensation and tax issues.
“When you take over in something like this, you have to work with the legislature, all the sheriffs,” Stassi said. “You have to work in a right way to make sure we’re working for the betterment for the people of our state and parishes.”
On issues related to supplemental pay, sheriffs have had a strong relationship with Edwards, who comes from a family of sheriffs in his native Tangipahoa Parish.
The governor’s knowledge of sheriff’s office operations and budget matters has made the job easier for sheriffs statewide, Stassi said.
“Gov. Edwards has been a good governor for the sheriffs and understands what other people don’t understand, such as the inventory tax – a system that works now,” he said. “He’s making sure that something we don’t have to fight to make sure that state supplemental pay is not just held in the constitution.”
The LSA has also been involved in battles on per diem pay for several parish sheriff’s offices. Iberville Parish has not faced that issue, but it has become a problem for other sheriffs who oversee larger prisons, Stassi said.
“It’s not just about what happens in your hometown as president of the association, but also with sheriffs all over the state,” he said. “It’s an honor to be chosen for anything, and particularly when it comes from this fine organization”
Meanwhile, the assignment to the Louisiana Sheriff’s Executive Management Institute will put Stassi at work with St. Charles Parish Sheriff Gregory Champagne and Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay D. Russell on work to promote public peace, along with establishment of training programs for sheriffs to provide management courses and skills to enhance the safety of Louisiana citizens, and enforcement of state laws.
The Institute will focus on new management techniques and other criteria they want to add to the training, Stassi said.
“We have sheriffs on this board, and we understand the world is changing, but we have to make sure we keep our high standards,” he said. “People are changing, but we already have the belief that deputies who get in trouble should not be able to just go another jurisdiction and carry on.
“We want the core certification taken away if the crime or what they’ve done rises to that level,” Stassi said. “We don’t want them shopping smaller departments and continuing the bad behavior elsewhere.”
Much of the work will involve the community relations aspect of law enforcement.
“We don’t want to just handle our side of the business – we want to work together with the community on community-policing and make sure we bring ourselves closer together and not divide use further,” he said.
The position represents a crossing from the young guard of sheriffs to that of a veteran, Stassi said.
It’s a matter of giving back, he said.
“In 2012, I was one of the new sheriffs, and those existing sheriffs were able to reach out to me, so it’s my duty as the Sheriff Jeff Wileys and Sheriff Newell Normands have now come and gone,” Stassi said. “Now it’s time for what was then younger generation – and what has now become the older generation – to help the younger sheriffs so they all don’t bump their heads on the same board we did.”