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Making the island safe: Security measures for Pleasure Island discussed

Security on Pleasure Island is increasing and more changes are in the works.

Members of the Pleasure Island Advisory Board along with Port Arthur Police Chief Timothy Duriso and Pct. 8 Deputy Constable Donald Jackson met with local fishermen and other island goers to discuss ways to make the island safer on Tuesday.

Security cameras are one way to keep an eye, so to speak, on the island. There are only two entrances/exit’s to the island, one from the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge and one from the Causeway Bridge connecting the island to Louisiana.

Duriso said officers do patrol the island and that Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens is 100 percent dedicated to sending deputies to the island as well. Jackson told the group that not many people realize that deputy constables do more than serve legal documents — they are licensed peace officers.

Jackson said police have “hot sheets” that are written up after a major event to inform other shifts of the event. The aspect of sharing resources, he said, could lead to better police work.

Duriso said that crime on the island is low.

“This area is patrolled more than any other area of the city,” he said.

The meeting comes less than three weeks after Nederland resident Kevin Nguyen was shot and killed on the north end of the island, and after the badly decomposed body of Kristen Balismo was discovered near the south side of the island in June.

Other crimes

Local fisherman and island advocate Ronnie Moon is on the island almost daily picking up trash, mostly on North Levee Road. He cited the many instances of broken beer bottles and drinking although there is a sign prohibiting this behavior.

Moon also told of a gray Jaguar car with a rusted front axle abandoned on the island while another man asked if someone was going to enforce the ‘no alcohol’ issue and told of how Fun Island Depot, a large playground on the island, becomes a gathering place for gay men, how some of their meetings end up with naked people in the castle portion of the playground and of discarded condoms.

Substation

The idea of having a permanent police substation on the island was also floated, but Moon said there was once one that was unmanned for most of the time.

Advisory board member Reginald Trainer told the group they are not just concerned about development of the island but are “very, very concerned about their safety.”

Security and cameras

“Anything we do with development we have to have security,” Moon said acknowledging that the marina and residential area are just one part of the island. His focus is on the two levee roads.

Lights on the levee roads aren’t feasible as changes could occur with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects and a gate that once closed off the North Levee Road did not work as police officers would have to drive the 6-mile road to make sure no one was there before locking up.

He also shared advice that he tells others all the time.

“If you see something say something,” he said.

One idea discussed was placing a curfew on the two levee roads, though this idea wasn’t discussed fully at this time.

Jimmy Dike, island director, told of security cameras which cost roughly $2,500 each with installation and other costs.

The advisory board approved the purchase of seven of the cameras contingent on getting information on their range, elevation and security.