When public officials enter or leave a meeting, they should have a reasonable expectation of safety.

The same goes for members of the public who want to participate in or observe the official business being conducted on their behalf.

It is good news that parish government and law enforcement professionals in Terrebonne and Lafourche have started to ramp up the security measures for meetings that are held after working hours, as many of those meetings are.

The moves follow complaints by some officials that they felt ill at ease leaving late meetings. There was also a heated exchange between Lafourche Parish Council members after a meeting that helped raise the issue to prominence.

Whatever the reasons, though, it is a good idea to assess safety measures and protocols periodically to ensure that our public meetings remain the forums they should be. People should feel safe attending them so they are more encouraged to do so.

In Terrebonne, Houma Police have agreed to extend the times officers are present at Government Tower, and a police officer is assigned to work at every meeting.

That is a common sense approach that should enhance the feeling of safety we should all enjoy.

In Lafourche, the council has asked the parish president to negotiate with the Sheriff’s Office to provide security during meetings.

Ideally, of course, none of this would be necessary. But after threats between council members resulted in a restraining order, there is little doubt that improved security is a step forward.

In both parishes, councilwomen have said they feel unsafe leaving night meetings. That simply should not happen.

For our residents to feel free to participate in local government, there should be a reasonable expectation that they will be safe doing so. And if even our elected officials feel threatened leaving meetings, things must change.

To their credit, those officials have recognized the shortcomings and are seeking to make changes for the better.


Our participatory form of government requires more of us. We are expected to take an interest in the public’s business. We are expected to take part in selecting the people who will represent us. And they are expected to work diligently to make sure our interests are represented.

All of that is placed in jeopardy if we can’t feel secure attending public meetings.


Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.