Excessive speed could be trend for one Sorrento Police Officer


TheCreole_Icons_SorrentoOn September 2, 2013, Sorrento Police Officer James Lavone Bell was involved in a traffic accident on Airline Hwy. in which he was traveling at a high rate of speed while engaged in pursuit of a speeding vehicle.  According to the Acadian Ambulance Monitoring System employed by Sorrento PD in its patrol units, Bell was proceeding at 100 mph when the accident occurred.

He told the investigating officer that, during the pursuit, Bell observed another vehicle in the left lane of travel so he switched to the right lane.  But the second vehicle also switched lanes, impeding his pursuit.  As Bell attempted to return to the left lane the second vehicle did so as well.  At this point he claims to have applied his brakes, resulting in the loss of control of his police vehicle and collision with the second vehicle.  Bell had activated the emergency lights and siren of his unit.

The driver of the second vehicle claims that she had already changed to the right lane to allow Officer Bell’s unit to pass on the left and never attempted to return to the left lane of travel.  Two witnesses offered their versions of the events which seem to support Officer Bell’s claims, but he was deemed at fault by the investigating officer anyway.

The accident report was produced by Louisiana State Police and concluded that Officer Bell was at fault because “Due to driver 1 (Bell) activating his emergency lights and siren, driver 1 should have proceeded in the left lane and not attempted to pass vehicle 2 on the right.”

The Creole has learned that “driver 2” has engaged the services of an attorney who is actively investigating the matter.

At issue is the claim that Officer Bell habitually travelled at excessive speeds, thereby jeopardizing the safety of public motorists.  The Creole has obtained Sorrento PD’s “Speed Violation Report” which was maintained for the unit operated by Officer Bell from July 1-September 3, 2013.  In that 64 day period there were 737 instances in which Officer Bell’s unit was flagged for travelling at speeds in excess of 75 mph.  The location of each instance is also identified by the Monitoring System.

If one were to consider only instances in which the speed was 90 mph or greater on the Interstate system and 80 mph or greater on other roadways, the total is reduced to 311 instances.  Of those instances only 97 occurred within the town limits of Sorrento where Officer Bell travelled in excess of 100 mph on 13 occasions.  He was clocked in excess of 90 mph 47 other times.

“Officer Bell was reprimanded when the Speeding Violations Report was brought to my attention,” said Sorrento Police Chief Earl Theriot “and the issue has not come up again.  I won’t comment on potential litigation except to point out that Officer Bell made over 300 violation stops during the relevant time period in which offending motorists were ticketed.”

His hasty travels, though, were not confined within the borders of Sorrento.  Officer Bell was flagged 81 times travelling faster than 90 mph in Gonzales, Prairieville and Geismar.  Each of these instances occurred on the Interstate system.  He was flagged doing over 100 mph in St. Amant on four occasion.  He also journeyed to Ascension’s west bank where he was flagged twice in Donaldsonville, once doing better than 90 mph.

Nor was his speeding limited to Ascension Parish.  He was flagged on 13 occasions in the St. James Parish localities of St. James, Convent and Gramercy.  Officer Bell also visited Livingston Parish where he was flagged in the Town of Livingston and in Walker.

In Baton Rouge, where Officer Bell resides, he was flagged for going over 80 mph 101 times, excluding those instances which occurred on the Interstate system.  He was flagged by the monitoring system over 120 times on Burbank Dr. in Baton Rouge where the posted speed limit is 50 mph.  This number includes those occasions where the rate of speed exceeded 75 mph, but there were numerous instances in which the speed registered at over 90 mph.  There were also instances in Scotlandville and Zachary.

Officers are allowed to take their units home if they reside within a 35 mi. radius from Sorrento.


Comments

  1. Rose Little says:

    20/20 just did a show on the Culture of Police Speeding and the impact on two families who's young adults were killed by one particular Police Officer speeding. http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/culture-police-speeding-20479222
    If this is habitual, it should be stopped. This officer has no reason to speed outside of the Sorrento area since it's clearly outside his jurisdiction.

  2. We live in the 21st century. That is what the radio and telecommunications are for. Call for assistance, use the information network to get out an APB. There is no need for the Town of Sorrento to be involved in the high speed pursuit of a SPEEDER!

  3. Marty Gendron says:

    A police officer is a citizen just like you and I. He does NOT have the right to speed because he is a police officer. When he encounters a law being broken such as speeding, then and only then he is allowed to speed to cite the offender that is traveling at a high rate of speed. This has become a serious problem all over and it is being abused by many police officers. I had a good friend that was killed by an police officer chasing a speeder when the police officer ran a red light without the proper signals on. Sad..very sad!!

  4. Marty Gendron says:

    A police officer is a citizen just like you and I. He does NOT have the right to speed because he is a police officer. When he encounters a law being broken such as speeding, then and only then he is allowed to speed to cite the offender that is traveling at a high rate of speed. This has become a serious problem all over and it is being abused by many police officers. I had a good friend that was killed by an police officer chasing a speeder when the police officer ran a red light without the proper signals on. Sad..very sad!!

  5. Old news says:

    That is old news . He does that all the time

  6. ONLY 97 times in Sorrento????? In 8 weeks??????

  7. Celia Carpenter says:

    I've seen him fly by a couple of times. Even on the interstate coming from highland toward Gonzales – he was tailgaiting me until I had a chance to get over in the right lane to let him pass. He surely didn't have his lights or sirens on. "only 97 occurred within the town limits of Sorrento where Officer Bell travelled in excess of 100 mph on 13 occasions." REALLY???

  8. Suhrennah says:

    “I won’t comment on potential litigation except to point out that Officer Bell made over 300 violation stops during the relevant time period in which offending motorists were ticketed.”
    Really, Earl? What this means to me is “ignore the bad, because oh my, look at the good.”

    Why is it that the ones that write the most tickets are also the ones that commit the most offenses – Bell? Gil? What I see is that as long as they bring in money for the town thru citations, they are allowed to do these things and only get “reprimanded”..by whatever ways Earl defines that word. Bell also got on the news for parking in the handicap spot at Dollar General in Sorrento, on more than one occasion.

    “In that 64 day period there were 737 instances in which Officer Bell’s unit was flagged for travelling at speeds in excess of 75 mph.” That statement there suggests that Bell exceeds the speed limit every time he sits his law-breaking behind in the seat of his patrol car. Do the math.

    And Earl will say again, “Oh, I reprimanded him”..but how many times is an officer allowed to get reprimanded before further action is taken? Ten? Twelve?

  9. Joe Niquiporo says:

    How many tickets were issued by the police outside of the town of Sorrento?

  10. Tired of the B.S. says:

    Mr. Wade how long has this been going on. How many other officers are going at this speed. By what you wrote on this one . To me it looks like it’s all the time. Don’t anyone care about what can happen to someone in there town. You know if he is doing that on 22 and 61 what is going on the other streets in the town. If they have the devices on the cars who had to monitor them? And who had them installed?

    • Just have to say says:

      You know that it’s not his boss. Look how long he was doing it and were he was . ALL OVER THE PLACE ,

  11. Sorrentocitizen says:

    This has been a huge problem for quite some time. Officer bell is not the only offender.

  12. Typical of these young "officers" that get badge and gun then feel that they are above the law. Earl Theriot you just now are seeing that this idiot has been speeding? Why don't you get off your f_tarse and do your job and supervise these officers that work for you, or is that too much like work for you?

  13. Larry, Bell isn’t young..he’s old enough to know better ;)

  14. Kerry Le Blanc says:

    My only comment is why he hasn't been fired, this will cost Sorrento millions of dollars probably since he had a pattern of speeding and nothing was done, bet the complainants lawyer is both laughing and licking his lips over the money they'll get.

  15. This is probably the same knucklehead who ran me off Airline Highway in pursuit of a speeder just a couple of weeks ago. Didn't bother reporting it, and as you can see in the article it wouldn't have done any good.

  16. Just sayin says:

    The media has picked this story up and the person he hit has hired a high powered attorney in Gonzales to defend them

  17. Friend Dean says:

    "except to point out that Officer Bell made over 300 violation stops during the relevant time period in which offending motorists were ticketed.” This is why Bell isn't held accountable – He brings in a lot of money in tickets – which is their primary function – armed Tax Collector – Police Chief is corrupt and is teaching his "troops" well.

  18. concerned citizen says:

    from what i hear chief praises this officer because of all the tickets he writes. isn’t there job to serve and protect. What crime has he stopped by catching a speeder when he does 90+ mph to catch them. most of the time he writes for using the wrong lane. He doesn’t speed to catch them. he sits in the parking lot of the store and points you to the driveway to pull into. he has pulled me over twice and i was in a group of 5 cars. there is no way i was the one that was speeding. i was in the middle of the pack and he stopped me?? come on how did he know it was my vehicle. i was doing exactly 10 mph over. ok. i was speeding but i was told they give you 10 then write you. the next time he pulled 5 of us over at one time and he argued with the guy in front of me because the other driver took a picture of him. he made that driver delete the picture or he threatend him he was going to arrest him if he didn’t. i wish that driver reported him. this officer is a joke. why is he speeding anyways at burbank and zachery and baton rouge. he shouldn’t have to be told how fast he can drive. isn’t that what speed limit signs are for. i know this guy thinks he is god and he does no wrong. something needs to be done with him. then when he gave me my ticket he preached to me about speeding. lol but its ok for him. you cant tell me everytime there was a violation he was chasing a speeder.

  19. Anonymous says:

    No wonder Sorrento's budget is in the red having to defend the police department. I'm sure the 300 violations not total up to the amount the Town is billed by attorneys and paying outs to victims. This officer should be fired and the Police Chief should be recalled because he is obviously not properly supervising his force. It's a joke that they want a raise also I honestly don't believe they merit a raise since their behavior has cost the Town a fortune and put them in a deficit.

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