MANSFIELD, La. - Trail rides are a tradition in DeSoto Parish. But according to members of the DeSoto Parish Police Jury, some of the activities associated with the trail rides are causing problems.
The Police Jury met Thursday night to talk about whether it needs to take action to more strictly regulate these gatherings.
“We’re are mainly concerned about the health safety and welfare of our citizens in DeSoto Parish and that is our job,” said Reggie Roe, president of the police jury. “We don’t necessarily want to create regulations but if we can’t fix the problem, we are going to have to do so.”
Organizers of the rides are having trouble controlling the number of people participating. At one recent gathering, a thousand people were expected and about five thousand showed up.
“Organizers did what they could to control the situation the best they could,” said Shunda Lewis Jamerson, a trail ride organizer. “We can’t always control what’s on the outside. We can try but we do need assistance.”
Sheriff Jayson Richardson is also concerned. He said the poor organization could cause a misfortune. He added that his deputies have already issued citations for driving under the influence and other violations related to the rides.
“A state highway was closed for about an hour,” Richardson said. “We had more people that could possibly fit in that event and it just created a problem that continued to grow.
The sheriff said the situation also prevented emergency services from being able to enter the area where a vehicle that caught fire. He said it took crews roughly an hour to get to the location.
In the end, police jury members declined to take any formal action, but said that the meeting was fair warning to those organizing trail rides. Their message: "That the organizers should be able to handle traffic and the people participating, or face consequences."