First day into office, East Feliciana sheriff increases patrols - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

First day into office, East Feliciana sheriff increases patrols to reduce fatalities

Sheriff Jeff Travis being sworn in with his family beside him. (Source: WAFB) Sheriff Jeff Travis being sworn in with his family beside him. (Source: WAFB)
Sheriff Jeff Travis with his family after being sworn in. (Source: WAFB) Sheriff Jeff Travis with his family after being sworn in. (Source: WAFB)
EAST FELICIANA PARISH, LA (WAFB) -

It was a day for the history books in East Feliciana Parish as a new sheriff was sworn in Friday.

After 16 years, Talmadge Bunch gave up the seat for Jeff Travis to officially take office. 

Travis was the chief of operations for the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections for the past 25 years. He retired to run for sheriff, beating out a sitting sheriff, something voters in the parish had not done in 40 years. 

"I will be a sheriff for all people, and this office will be a sheriff for all people," said Sheriff Travis after he was sworn in. 

Greg Phares was sworn in to serve as the chief criminal deputy. Phares was the chief investigator for the state Inspector General's Office and a former Baton Rouge Police chief. 

The chief civil deputy will remain Wendi Hooge, who has been in that position for the past eight years. 

Travis said his biggest challenge coming into office is the budget and the priority is public safety. In fact, that's something he addressed in his first day into office -- a partnership with Louisiana State Police to increase patrols in the parish. 

"We've had a lot of fatalities on our highways recently and we just felt, it's not just about trying to create revenue like some people think with tickets. It's about trying to slow people down and keep our highways safe," Travis said.

Since the start of 2016, there have been four deadly crashes in the parish with nine lives lost. 

A week ago, there was a wreck that killed two people. Back in May, a fiery, deadly crash claimed four lives including a 1-year-old child. Just days before that, there was another fatal wreck with two people dead. In February, speeding was the cause of a crash that killed a 19-year-old. 

"A fatal traffic crash might not get the publicity of a homicide, but it still takes a life and is still a tragedy for the families," Phares said. 

"I think you get in a rural parish and there's not a lot of traffic and there are open highways," said Capt. Jim McGuane with the State Police. "People see the open road and the gas pedal goes a little bit further down and I think speed is a factor and probably alcohol and drug use is another factor. We're going to try to help stamp out all of these." 

Beginning immediately, state troopers as well as East Feliciana deputies will be watching the roadways to hopefully reduce the number of wrecks. 

"We're going to have different troopers in the parish, morning hours, afternoon hours, weekends, late nights. Our test section is going to assist us in coming up and checking the big trucks and try to get them to slow down," McGuane said.. 

There is no end date for the increased patrols in the parish.

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