Region briefs

July 12, 2014 

Senator seeks report on college sex assaults

BATON ROUGE -- A New Orleans state senator is asking higher education leaders to compile a report detailing the numbers of sexual assaults reported on Louisiana's college campuses in the last five years.

Sen. J.P. Morrell sent a letter Friday to Board of Regents Chairman Clinton "Bubba" Rasberry and the chairmen of the college system boards seeking the information by Sept. 15.

He is also seeking details of each campus' policy governing sexual assaults and employee training requirements to handle such cases.

Morrell, a Democrat who chairs a Senate judiciary committee, cites a recent national survey that he describes as showing "an epidemic" of rape and sexual assault on campuses and disappointing efforts to address the problem.

He said the data will help state lawmakers find ways to combat assaults in Louisiana.

-- Associated Press

Corrections department guns, vests missing

BATON ROUGE -- A new state audit finds a dozen guns and more than three dozen bulletproof vests belonging to state's Department of Public Safety and Corrections went missing over the past few years and haven't been found.

The audit exposing the missing corrections gear prompted the department recently to revise its policy regarding "sensitive items," which include weapons, vests and radios.

Corrections Secretary Jimmy Leblanc said the policy now requires quarterly inventory audits of such items.

In May, department leaders met with staff members in charge of managing the public property to explain the new rules.

"The loss of any gun is important," Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said. "We need to improve the control over these items so that they don't go missing in the first place."

Of the 12 guns -- all pistols -- reported in the audit as "unlocated," 11 were stolen, said Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

The 12th gun was in an agent's home that caught fire and was destroyed, Laborde said.

-- The Advocate

Police: Men steal $2,000 in soap, hygiene items

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. -- Police are trying to figure out why three men walked into a CVS pharmacy in Atlanta's northern suburbs and stole $2,000 in soap and other personal care items.

Authorities said the men were filmed by surveillance cameras as they carried out the July 1 heist at the store in Sandy Springs.

Sandy Springs police Sgt. Ron Momon said the thieves walked into the store and casually grabbed the items, then walked out of the store past cashiers.

Police said they wanted to catch up with the men to find out why they took the products.

-- WSB-TV

Lake Charles Port vessel traffic to double

LAKE CHARLES, La. -- Port of Lake Charles officials said vessel traffic is expected to increase by more than 50 percent over the next five years and double within the decade.

The port released the second of three reports Tuesday during a Harbor and Safety Committee meeting, studying the current and future projections of traffic on the Calcasieu Ship Channel.

The major find of the study is the ship channel can handle additional vessels but dredging and channel widening are needed.

With more than $67 billion worth of projected capital investments in Southwest Louisiana, half of those investments correlate with the port. The influx of channel use is attributed to expanded operations of existing terminals and the construction of several proposed facilities.

-- American Press

Paper: Email alerted VA leader of schedule concern

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A newspaper reports that emails it obtained show the director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System learned of concerns about patient scheduling issues in April 2013 -- more than eight months before action was taken.

Director James Talton said he was unable to take action on any "ambiguous statements" staff members emailed him about scheduling problems.

A June audit by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General showed employees in the central Alabama system had manipulated records to conceal long waiting periods for veterans seeking medical care.

Talton said the first time he received anything he could take action on was in late December, when an employee brought to his attention paper waiting lists staff used to keep track of patients seeking appointments.

-- Montgomery Advertiser

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