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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

January 2022 | Volume 15 | Issue 1

“You can make a difference by doing just one thing, making one connection,” said Deputy Oscar Benoit, Community Services Unit Outreach Liaison at the Lafayette Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff’s Office (LPSO).

Pictured: LPSO Deputy Oscar Benoit greets Lafayette resident Joe Green at Community Walk in May 2021

Benoit believes making those seemingly small connections, like the one seen in this photo at a community walk last year, is a crucial component of law enforcement’s role in every community. This walk was just one of many regular monthly meetings between Lafayette Parish community members and the sheriff’s office, as well as the Lafayette Police Department and the Lafayette City Marshal’s office.

Deputy Benoit was photographed greeting Joe Green, a local resident, back in May 2021 by Lafayette photographer Scott Clause. Green is a member of 100 Black Men, an organization created to provide youth in the area with the positive role models and mentors they need to be successful. The group is one of the many community organizations the sheriff’s office partners with regularly to build lasting bonds with the people it serves.

The community meetings started as a way to get more feedback from residents in the jurisdiction and in turn, strengthen relationships. Benoit says this effort has accomplished that, and more.

“Most of the time, they don’t call you unless they need you,” said Benoit of the residents in many of the areas where deputies have taken to the streets to meet, greet and offer support to those in the neighborhood—highlighting the importance of getting out of the office and into the community.

Benoit says the walks are an opportunity for residents, especially the elderly, to talk with law enforcement, ask questions, and relay information to deputies that they may otherwise be hesitant to disclose for various reasons. As for the younger generations, Benoit knows that seeing their parents interact with the deputies and officers will make children more inclined to associate law enforcement with friendliness, not fear.

“It’s about more than just breaking the ice,” said Benoit, “If we can show even just one community member that we truly do walk the walk, that plants a seed of trust that will continue to grow far beyond the bounds of our jurisdiction.”

Valerie Ponseti
Public Information Officer
Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office

Photo courtesy of Lafayette Photographer Scott Clause.

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