Fighting and underage drinking were some of the problems local police faced as Mardi Gras wrapped up, but they say the experience was fairly smooth overall.
Lafourche sheriff's Lt. Brennan Matherne said deputies issued 19 summonses for underage drinking during parades Friday through Tuesday. They also arrested one person for underage drinking and resisting an officer and another for fighting and resisting an officer.
Matherne said the Sheriff's Office targeted underage drinking this year as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.
"We typically don't see a large number of arrests at parades, which we attribute to our high level of officer presence as well as the public understanding that everyone's there to have a good time," he said. "For the most part, cooler heads prevailed. Having the officers in place, we were able to diffuse some situations before they got out of hand. ... We're not there to spoil anybody's good time. We're there to ensure everyone has a safe and happy Mardi Gras."
Terrebonne sheriff's Maj. Malcolm Wolfe said deputies made two drug-related arrests during parades Friday through Tuesday. They also made 10 other arrests on warrants for charges including aggravated battery, drug possession and distribution, and obstruction of justice.
Wolfe said deputies' presence helps prevent problems during Mardi Gras.
"Sometimes you may have arrests related to fighting or intoxication, but it was quiet this year," he said. "Friday night was real cold. It wasn't overly crowded. The rest of the weekend was good."
Houma Police Chief Dana Coleman said that from Friday through Tuesday, his agency had 12 arrests or summonses for fighting, two for resisting an officer and one for throwing back at a float. Police also recovered a gun from a juvenile.
Coleman said officers worked both in uniform and undercover throughout Mardi Gras.
The Thibodaux Police Department reported no arrests during parades Sunday and Tuesday.
Cpl. David Melancon thanked the public for cooperating with law enforcement and enjoying the parades in a safe manner. Doing so made officers' jobs easier, he said.
Melancon said random acts of violence can happen anytime, anywhere. However, he said, the city gives people room to spread out in an effort to avoid trouble.
"Whenever you mix alcohol with random people who are shoulder-to-shoulder, you may have more opportunities for tempers to flare," he said. "When people have more space to spread out and enjoy family time, that plays into the psyche of how they enjoy the event. We instruct officers to be polite, courteous, kind and use discretion. If you have the opportunity to talk someone down and have it worked out without making an arrest, so be it. If we do have to make an arrest, they're instructed to not make a grand spectacle of it. ... An officer can either escalate a situation or deescalate a situation with their attitude."
Lockport Police Chief David Harrelson said his agency made no arrests during the Krewe of Apollo's parade Saturday, although the Sheriff's Office did.
"It was our quietest parade I've ever been a part of," he said.
The number of arrests and summonses by the Golden Meadow Police Department were not available Wednesday.
-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.