Federal, state and local law enforcement join together to discuss civil rights with community
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley joined the FBI, Louisiana State Police, Lafayette Sheriff’s Office, the Lafayette Police Department, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Police Department and others to discuss civil rights Monday at the UL Lafayette LITE Center.
More than 100 members of the community attended the panel discussion which included Finley, FBI New Orleans Division Special Agent In Charge Michael J. Anderson, FBI Lafayette Field Office Special Agent In Charge Don Bostic, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Daren Ogletree, Louisiana State Police Criminal Investigations Major Layne Barnum, Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft and University of Louisiana at Lafayette Police Chief Joey Sturm. Each speaker addressed various concerns and comments from the public concerning civil rights in the Acadiana area. All said they agreed that more dialogue was necessary between the public and law enforcement. The panelists urged those present to contact their agencies with questions or report problems. The panel ended with comments from Louisiana NAACP state president Dr. Ernest Johnson.
“I appreciate the opportunity to participate on this panel,” Finley stated. “The discussion highlighted areas where law enforcement can improve services to the community and educate the public on the legal process, the law and their rights. It is through events like this that a better understanding between laws enforcement and the public they serve can take place. I want to thank the FBI for organizing this event, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for allowing the panel to use the LITE Center, the local civic leaders who attended and community members who expressed their opinions and asked questions.”
Finley spoke about the Western District of Louisiana and the challenges of prosecuting federal cases in such a large district. The Western District covers 42 of the state’s 64 parishes and encompasses the cities of Lafayette, Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria and Lake Charles. She added that civil rights concerns are a priority focus in her District, and her office will continue to conduct outreach programs to the youth, schools, universities and community groups. Finley said that a factor in reducing civil rights violations is educating the community about their rights. She said her office continues to work with local law enforcement through training, discussions and programs to address the needs of the public. She encouraged the public to contact her if they have reports of civil rights violations or questions.
Finley is the first female U.S. Attorney to serve in Louisiana. She was selected by President Barack Obama in January of 2010, after being recommended by U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June of 2010. United States Attorney Finley was sworn into office on June 2, 2010 to serve as the Western District of Louisiana’s chief law enforcement officer. In addition to her duties as the U.S. Attorney, Finley is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force and currently serves as Co-Chair of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Management and Budget Committee.