Louisiana’s Cajun John Wayne: An Up Close and Personal Interview
Captain Clay Higgins of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana, who has become a folk hero here around these parts, has taken the internet by storm with his viral Crime Stopper videos, earning him the title, “The Cajun John Wayne”.
My own parents, who have never even heard of Youtube, look forward to Wednesday night, when Higgins’ newest videos are played on KATC’s six o’clock news, insisting my brother teach them how to operate their DVR so they never miss one.
The love my parents have for Higgins is not uncommon here in Louisiana. Higgins’ videos strike at the hearts of the locals who enjoy his tough-talking promises of incarceration and rehabilitation spoken directly to the bad guys themselves.
He mixes that with compassionate promises of mercy to those who repent and turn themselves in. It’s a method of crime fighting we haven’t seen used much lately, but one that has brought great success to the St. Landry Crime Stopper program.
Higgins ability to profile cases, whose victims are part of the fabric of the community, may be an approach more law enforcement agencies should take notice of as Higgins’ videos continue to produce results.
Each saw their profile. Each heard the drill sergeant lecture. Each had a chance to keep running. And each walked into the sheriff’s office and turned themselves in.
Higgins’ ability to bring these suspects in with only his words and promises of respect are what makes his videos and approach to law enforcement so captivating.
As a local, I, like my parents, am also captivated by Higgins’ videos and the way they have been received around the country. I admire his technique and his old country sayings that seem to put everything into perspective. I am always excited to see a police officer who seems to have respect for the rights of the people he serves.
This fascination eventually led me to phone Higgins’ office and ask for an interview. I was thrilled when he agreed.
I was surprised to learn that Higgins was familiar with PINAC and familiar with how skeptical we can be of law enforcement. Still, he welcomed us into his office as he would any other media agency. And he left no questions off-limits.
He also gave us a tour of the new St. Landry Sheriff’s Safety Complex, opened earlier this year. The complex, formerly an old school campus, houses one of the finest crime labs and crime fighting equipment in the state. The $2.1 million complex was built after Sheriff Bobby Guidroz saved revenues for the renovation for ten years. The project was completed with no added taxes to the community, one of the poorest parishes in the state.
Though we didn’t agree about everything, Higgins did turn out to be one of the most professional law enforcement officers I have ever encountered. His openness and willingness to speak rationally about the problems between law enforcement and the public is the first step in bridging the ever growing gap.
I hope other departments around the country will take notice of Higgins and the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Department and the reasons they are so well respected by their community, the State of Louisiana and around the country.
Watch the video interview below.