Runaway child, vehicle burglaries bring police critics

Two complaints were lodged against Baldwin Police at Tuesday’s meeting of the board of aldermen.

Dana Bruno said she was leaving the town and approaching the bridge over the Charenton Navigation and Drainage Canal and there was a 6- or 7-year-old child who ran into her lane of travel.

Bruno said she stopped and got out of her vehicle, along with other motorists, and tried to “rescue the child.” She said she drove to the Baldwin police headquarters and the dispatcher allegedly “didn’t know what to do.”

“He told me one of the officers had to attend a funeral procession,” she said. “This is a baby crossing the bridge. So other people of the community stopped on top the bridge to do a rescue. He said it was the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s department, but couldn’t they have sent a police unit to stop traffic? Something more should have been done.”

The child was a runaway, Bruno said. The child’s grandmother, Brenda Ceasar, also told the board that the child is “mental challenged” and ran away when he got upset.

The child ended up crossing the bridge and was down Yokely Road before someone caught him, Ceasar said.

Chief Gerald Minor said he addressed the situation and the dispatcher is “lucky he is still working.”

A chorus of replies from alderman and the audience said the employee should have been terminated, but Mayor Wayne Breaux warned that by law employees cannot be discussed during a public meeting without prior notification.

Another Baldwin resident, Melissa Gianfala, asked what police are doing about alleged vehicle burglaries in Baldwin. She said her daughter’s car was broken into and after an officer worked the case she could receive no further information. Gianfala said the officer would not take fingerprints until she insisted he do so.

Officer Sam Weise said fingerprints only help if a suspect is already in the computer system database. He said he thought someone else at police headquarters had returned Gianfala’s call.

Weise said he is the only officer on duty during the day.

“Everyone realizes that police can’t solve everything,” Mayor Wayne Breaux said. “I think in most cases just communicating with a person and letting them know what steps (police) are taking. I think that’s a lot of what the problem is.”

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