DESOTO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Three DeSoto Parish sheriff's deputies are on administrative leave as a state investigation into possible abuse of an overtime ticket-writing program widens, Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle tells KSLA Investigates.
The Louisiana legislative auditor's office is conducting an investigative audit into the Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) program, which was designed to enhance safety and traffic enforcement on interstate highways in Louisiana.
Under the program, law enforcement officers could work overtime writing tickets for parish governments and earn extra money.
But following a series of investigative reports by Lee Zurik at our sister station WVUE in New Orleans, the program fell under scrutiny.
Those reports uncovered alleged payroll fraud under the LACE program by three state troopers, leading Col. Kevin Reeves, the Louisiana State Police superintendent, to suspend the program.
Now, according to Arbuckle, the legislative auditor's office is examining the operation of the LACE program in the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office.
"We have actually been working with the auditor's office," the sheriff says. "For a better part of a month, they've been in and out of here. And I have people working to hand over documents."
In response to the ongoing audit, Arbuckle says that his office opened its own internal affairs investigation and that inquiry led to three deputies connected to the LACE detail getting placed on administrative leave.
"If I've got any deputies who've stepped over the line, they will be dealt with swiftly," the sheriff says.
With the investigative audit and internal affairs probe uncovering potential issues with the LACE program in DeSoto, Arbuckle tells KSLA Investigates that he has asked Louisiana State Police to investigate whether any criminal laws were broken, such as payroll fraud.
"I think an independent investigation is the right thing. That's why I called the State Police. They're not in here yet.
"But I am doing everything to let our public know if something happened, I'm calling it out."
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