Jefferson Davis Parish Clerk of Court and Bar Association President Rick Arceneaux, right, presents Sheriff Ricky Edwards with an award recognizing him for his 20 years of service as sheriff and his more than 30 years as a public servant including serving as Ward 2 City Marshal in Jennings and working at the Assessor’s Office. Edwards will retire as sheriff on June 30 to take a position at the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. (Doris Maricle / American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, June 04, 2012 10:25 AM
JENNINGS — When Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff Ricky Edwards was growing up, he never envisioned serving 20 years as the parish’s top law enforcement official.
But that’s how life has turned out for the 51-year-old, father of 10 and soon-to-be grandfather of four.
Edwards will turn the reins of sheriff over to Ivy Woods on June 30 as he steps down from office.
He will continue a career in law enforcement after taking a position with the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association.
Edwards recently looked back on a career that surpassed his own expectation.
How long did you serve as sheriff of Jeff Davis Parish?
I have served as sheriff of Jefferson Davis Parish since July 1, 1992.
How did you get into politics, particularly running for sheriff?
I had previously served as city marshal for the City Court of Jennings. I had always wanted to serve my community and after serving 7 years as city marshal, I decided to run for sheriff.
Did you ever imagine that you’d be sheriff for 20 years?
No. I have always set goals and objectives for my life and I set a personal goal of serving 6 terms as sheriff. That would have put me a few months shy of the retirement age of 55.
I am very thankful to the people of Jefferson Davis Parish who put their trust and faith in me and allowed me to serve them for 20 years.
What will you miss most about being sheriff?
Serving the people of Jefferson Davis Parish directly.
How have things changed in law enforcement over the years, especially as far as investigative techniques?
Many things have changed over the last 20 years. Court decisions have changed the way everything is done.
The word of any person use to be their bond. Now, in order to get successful convictions and arrests, you must utilize all available technology.
You must also investigate with the knowledge that technology is going to improve and continue to re-evaluate evidence with the new technology.
What has been your biggest challenge as sheriff?
Challenges are different for different people. My biggest challenge was to not judge any person because of something they may or may not have done. I have always tried to treat everyone the way I would want to be treated.
What has been your greatest satisfaction serving as sheriff?
I believe we have the greatest people in the world right here in Jefferson Davis Parish.
I have always tried to follow Mother Teresa’s philosophy, “If you can’t do great things, do little things with great love. if you can’t do them with great love, do them with a little love. if you can’t do them with a little love, do them anyway. Love grows when people serve.”
My greatest satisfaction has been serving the citizens of Jefferson Davis Parish. I have also enjoyed serving the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association as its president.
What is your most cherished memory during your time as sheriff?
Working with some of the most diverse group of people who serve Jefferson Davis Parish as deputy sheriffs and seeing our community come together in times of need; i.e., Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Watching fifth and sixth grade students graduate from the Drug and Resistance Education (DARE) Program.
What would you say is your most significant accomplishment as sheriff? SNbS
Getting the office in the financial shape, making it easier to provide the services that are needed to our citizens and travelers and bringing Jefferson Davis Parish into the communications and technology age. Being the first sheriff in Louisiana to put sex offenders on the internet and now using retinal Imaging to get positive ID on offenders.
Any regrets or disappointments?
Regrets and disappointments are my own personal things. I use them to make me stronger and to learn. I don’t keep regrets and disappointments, I use them to be a better Christian.
What has been most frustrating for you as sheriff?
Having to provide services necessary and sometimes mandated, without the proper level of funding.
I learned early that the bottom line is the checkbook and just as I do at home, I must do with the public’s money - get the most and wisest use with the amount of funding available.
Are there things you wish you had more time to do before leaving office?
I know I have a finite number of days left and I don’t wish for more time.
I hope that the future brings a new and modern jail for Jefferson Davis Parish, a community that comes forward and gets involved in the criminal justice system, and a continued partnership of all governmental agencies.
As you leave office with several unsolved murders hanging over the parish, some of which have cast doubt on law enforcement, what message would you like to share with the citizens of Jeff Davis Parish?
The citizens of Jefferson Davis Parish have reaped many benefits from many different levels of law enforcement being in our parish to assist the Task Force.
There is no doubt in my mind that these senseless and heinous murders will be solved. I personally will continue working until my dying day.
I don’t think that people realize how much time all of the investigators have put into these cases and it takes a tremendous toll on their families.
We have kept practically everything close to us so as to have a good case for conviction once they are solved. I know that is frustrating to the public because everyone “needs to know” but it is essential in this investigation.
I want the citizens to know that this investigation is far from over and that there are many dedicated people continuing to pour through information, follow leads, and gather more information when it becomes available.
Please pray for the victims’ families as I have since 2005 and I ask the public to pray for the investigators and their families.
What are your plans for the future?
I am going to continue in the law enforcement field. I have taken a position at the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. I am hoping to use my knowledge to assist all parishes throughout Louisiana.
What are you looking most to in the future? SNbS
Private time. Private time for my God, my family, my community, and then I’ll find a little for me.
What is your advice for sheriff elect Ivy Woods?
Be yourself and remember you work for God, family, and community.