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sheriff launches ‘Operation Exodus’—A policing plan for an end-of-the-world scenario
03-01-2010, 09:45 PM,
#1
sheriff launches ‘Operation Exodus’—A policing plan for an end-of-the-world scenario
http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20100227/NEWS01/2270314/1060
Bossier sheriff (Louisiana) launches ‘Operation Exodus’ — A policing plan for an end-of-the-world scenario
By Drew Pierson • dpierson@gannett.com • February 27, 2010
The Bossier Parish sheriff's office is launching a program called "Operation Exodus," a policing plan for an end-of-the-world scenario involving a mostly white group of ex-police volunteers and a .50-caliber machine gun, inspired in part from the Book of Exodus in the Bible.

"The buck stops with Larry Deen," said Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry Deen. "The liability stops with Larry Deen. I am the chief law enforcement officer in this parish, and it is incumbent upon me protect all of the people in it."

Deen said he had been formulating a plan to protect Bossier Parish's vital resources, like food and gasoline, in the event of a catastrophic event, such as war or a terrorist attack. Deen said he had been thinking of the plan since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Local residents may remember then-President George W. Bush's address to the nation was made out of Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City immediately after the attacks. At that time, Deen's men and about 100 other patrol cars barricaded entry to the base to protect the president from what turned out to be the nonexistent threat of an assault on the base.

Deen's office contacted more than 300 parish residents it thought would be useful during a similar emergency. Two hundred were chosen. Most of these people are ex-police officers and sheriff's office deputies that the sheriff's office was familiar with, Deen said.

Under the plan, these volunteers, supplemented with active public safety personnel, will be dispatched to vital areas in Bossier to protect them from looters or rioters. Deen listed as examples food inside grocery stores and gasoline in gasoline stations, not to mention protecting hospitals and other public meeting places.

These volunteers will be armed by the sheriff's office, using, among other things, shotguns, riot shields and batons. The members are mostly white men. Five are black. Women involved will only be used in "support roles," Deen said, which indicated non-combat activity. One of their first official training sessions was Feb. 20 when they learned basic hand-to-hand combat techniques.

Deen said he was not creating a militia.

"We run from that word," Deen said. "We're just the opposite that word."

Sheriff's office deputies stressed the program would not cost much. Because weapons, such as a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on something the sheriff's office calls "the war wagon," already have been purchased, the cost associated with the program would only be training and uniforms volunteers must wear, costing about $4,500 total.

Deen said in a press release last week that he named the program in part from the Book of Exodus in the Bible. However, on Wednesday, when asked whether he believed in a true "End of Days" scenario, he declined comment.

"I don't think we need that," Deen said. "These are totally different deals: there's Exodus in the Bible, but we're talking about Operation Exodus in Bossier Parish so I wouldn't even want to comment on that."

The sheriff's office is one of the three governmental entities that regulate Bossier Parish on the local level, the other two being Bossier City and the Bossier Parish Police Jury, which regulates mostly the rural areas of the parish.

The sheriff's office can levy taxes without permission from the other two bodies. Its budget has more than doubled in the past six years, from $15.6 million in 2004 to $35.5 million in 2009, despite an increase of only about 5,000 people in the parish during that time period, according to the U.S. Census. The sheriff's budget is on track to eclipse the Police Jury's operating budget ($45 million in 2010) and, eventually, Bossier City's ($45 million in 2010).

Deen stressed this program was not meant to replace existing emergency preparation plans, such as those of the local Homeland Security Office.

When asked whether the program would be a useful tool in the event of a disaster, Sandy Davis, director of the Caddo-Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said "I think every public safety agency should be prepared for disaster response."

Deen said he had contacted other parish officials to inform them of the plan and coordinate their efforts, and the other officials "were all for it."

However, few parish officials wanted to give The Times comment about the program. They included Bossier City Mayor Lorenz "Lo" Walker and Bossier Parish Administrator Bill Altimus.

For now, Operation Exodus volunteers selected will meet quarterly to hold refresher training, Deen said.

"It's my job," Deen said. "It's a calling."
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