Ted Riser

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Larkin Theodore "Ted" Riser, Jr.​

Sheriff of Webster Parish, Louisiana​, USA
In office
July 1996​ – July 2004​
Preceded by Royce L. McMahen​
Succeeded by Gary Steven Sexton​

Born March 3, 1949​
Place of birth missing​
Nationality American
Political party Democrat / later Republican
Spouse(s) Gloria Butler "Jan B." Riser​
Children Larkin T. Riser, III ​
Residence Sibley, Webster Parish​
Alma mater Louisiana Tech University
Occupation Law-enforcement officer

Businessman

Larkin Theodore Riser, Jr., known as Ted Riser (born March 3, 1949), is a former sheriff of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. He served two terms as Democrat from 1996 to 2004 but at some point after leaving office, he switched to Republican affiliation.[1]

Background

Riser's grandfather, Clarence Riser (1893-1925), a native of Natchez, Mississippi, was killed, along with a brother-in-law, in a sawmill explosion in Ouachita Parish in northeastern Louisiana. Riser's father, Larkin Riser, Sr., known as L. T. Riser (January 10, 1922 – July 15, 2015), was three years old at the time.[2] Ola Magee Riser, the mother of Riser, Sr., then married his step-father, Clem Matthews. Riser, Sr., was among the last surviving members of the Civilian Conservation Corps and served in the United States Army. He retired after forty years of employment at the Roundtree Olds Cadillac dealership in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was a long-time deacon at the Heflin Baptist Church in Heflin in south Webster Parish and an active fisherman and gardener. He is interred at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in rural Creston in Natchitoches Parish.[3]

Larkin's mother, the former Bessie Mae Scallion (born September 1928), resides in Heflin, as does his sister, Annette Williford and her husband, Tommy. Riser has a brother, Dennis Riser of Selma, Alabama.[3][2]

A former officer of the Louisiana State Police, Ted Riser resides in Sibley south of [[Minden, Louisiana|Minden], the seat of government for Webster Parish. Riser has resided in Webster Parish continuously since 1974. He has taken numerous bicycle trips throughout the United States.[4] Riser attended Louisiana Tech University in Ruston and listed a Shreveport address while there in his junior year in 1970. This indicates that he likely graduated from high school in Shreveport.[5] He has also resided in Bossier City, Louisiana.[6] In 1971, Louisiana Tech awarded him the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree; the next year he entered into police training.[7]

Riser and his wife, the former Gloria Butler (born February 1952), also known as Jan B. Riser, have a son, Larkin T. Riser, III (born January 1985) of Bossier City. Jan Riser is one of two children and the only daughter of Joe Butler (1924-2013), a former mayor of Dubberly in south Webster Parish, and his wife, the former Elsie Brunson (born June 1933).[8]

Riser is one of three principals in the Louisiana Law Hunting Club, Inc., which was established in 1994.[9]

Political life

Riser resigned after twenty-one years with the state police to run for sheriff. He based much of his campaign on the restructuring of the parish jail and penal farm to halt recurring jailbreaks. He also focused on crimes against elderly citizens and a sound law-enforcement agenda to encourage the location of business and industry into Webster Parish.[7]On October 21, 1995, he won the two-candidate primary election to succeed the retiring Sheriff Royce L. McMahen, a Democrat and a veterinarian from Springhill in northern Webster Parish near the Arkansas border. He defeated fellow Democrat and McMahen's chief deputy, Thomas Dale "Tommy" Kemp, Sr. (born August 1941), known as "The Singing Deputy" because of his talent in gospel and country music.[10] Riser polled 7,935 votes (53.7 percent) to Kemp's 6,848 (46.3 percent).[11][12] The sheriff collects property taxes, enforces criminal law in the parish outside of the municipalities, and with his staff of deputies is recognized as the most powerful political officer in the parish.​

Riser attributed his victory to God: "We fought a good fight, and Mr. Kemp fought a good fight. He was a very formidable opponent, and I feel like it was one of the cleanest races in the state." Kemp, who came to speak at Riser's victory rally, had thirty years experience in law enforcement at the time of his defeat.[13] He sworn into office in a ceremony at the Minden Civic Center on July 1, 1996. Judge Scott Crichton, a Minden native who was later elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court, administered the oath.[14]

Upon taking office, Riser dismissed several deputies who had worked openly for Kemp in the 1995 election. These deputies sued for violation of rights through political retaliation but soon dropped their case. Riser then sued under the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976 to gain reimbursement of his legal fees accrued in the suit. However, he was rebuffed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, based in Shreveport, on grounds that the issue was not a civil rights matter.[15]

Even more deputies subsequently joined in a suit against Riser and former Sheriff McMahen, who died in 1999, regarding the calculation of overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The sheriffs were sued personally as well as in connection with their job duties.[16] Riser ordered the testing of inmates at the former penal farm for drug abuse. When no abuse was uncovered, speculation increased that the inmates had been getting narcotics from visiting relatives.[17]

In 1996, Republican Governor Mike Foster appointed Riser to the 21-member Louisiana Highway Safety Committee, which oversees law enforcement grants.[18]

In 1999, Riser won his second term by a similar margin as his first when he defeated former sheriff's deputy Thomas Cameron "T. C." Bloxom, Jr. (1929-2014), a native of Mansfield DeSoto Parish, but a long-term Minden resident. Riser polled 7,552 votes (54.3 percent) to Bloxom's 6,351 (45.7 percent). Bloxom had become a deputy in 1956 under J. D. Batton and continued in that role under successor Sheriffs O. H. Haynes, Jr., and Royce McMahen.[19] One of the best known of law-enforcement officers in Webster Parish, Bloxom was also the appointed Minden Fire Department chief from 1971 to 2008 and the elected city police chief from 1990 to 2010, a position that he held during his second race for sheriff against Riser in 1999.[20] In 1983, Bloxom had unsuccessfully challenged McMahen in the latter's bid for a second term. He polled 4,425 votes (25.5 percent) to McMahen's 11,090 (64 percent).[21]

During his time as sheriff, Riser seemed repeatedly at odds with the Webster Parish Police Jury, the parish governing body akin to the county commission in most other states. The dispute centered over the housing and reimbursement of the costs of prisoners. Riser accused the police jury of not paying its bills after the jurors offered barely half of what the sheriff said was owed. The police jury, led by its president, Charles Roger "Charlie" Walker, Sr. (1931-2015) of Doyline in south Webster Parish, subsequently sued Riser, whom it accused of allowing his employees and inmate crews to sabotage the vacant parish penal farm; the damages rendered the facility inoperable for further use as a jail.[22][23]Josh Beavers, former publisher of The Minden Press-Herald, said that Walker handled the controversy with Riser fairly: "Through all of the turmoil, I never felt like Mr. Walker was trying to be subversive. He was always honest, always open."[24]

Under Riser, a new $7.3 million state-of-the-art prison, the Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center, named for Dorcheat Bayou and located within the former Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant, or Camp Minden, west of Minden, was constructed to house up to 340 prisoners. Because the land on which the center lies is formerly United States Army property, Riser depended on then U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat defeated in 2014 by Republican Bill Cassidy, to break through the federal regulations: "She was a real champion for us. She ... helped us get through everything that had to be done in Washington."[25]

In 2003, Riser was handily unseated by his fellow Democrat and former deputy, Gary Steven Sexton[26] (born April 1953) of Shongaloo in central Webster Parish. Sexton received 8,610 votes (64.2 percent) to Riser's 4,814 (35.9 percent).[27]​ After four terms, Sexton will step down as sheriff in July 2020.

In 2009, Riser was hired as a part-time deputy by Sheriff Charles Mahier McDonald, Jr. (born December 1954), a Democrat from Richland Parish in northeastern Louisiana]],[28] based in Rayville, ninety-six miles from Riser's home in Sibley. In March 2012, then Governor Bobby Jindal reappointed Riser as an at-large member of the board of directors of the Correctional Facilities Corporation Board.[29] Established by the legislature in 1985 to build and equip prisons for lease to the state, the corporation raises funds through revenue bonds.[30]

References

  1. Larkin Riser 71073, March 1949. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on April 1, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Joseph R. Riser (Great-grandfather of Larkin T. Riser, Jr.). findagrave.com. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Larkin Theodore Riser, Sr.. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on July 16, 2015.
  4. Riser to speak at Thursday meeting. Minden Press-Herald (December 11, 2013). Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  5. Louisiana Tech University, Lagniappe (1970), Junior class, p. 111.
  6. Larkin Theodore Riser. intelius.com. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Riser resigns to seek office of sheriff", Minden Press-Herald, July 7, 1995, pp. 1, 3.
  8. Joe Butler obituary. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  9. Louisiana Law Hunting Club, Inc.. bizapedia.com. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  10. "Singing deputy will entertain at banquet", Minden Press-Herald, January 24, 1975, p. 1
  11. Results for Election Date: 10/21/1995 Webster Parish. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  12. Minden Press-Herald, October 23, 1995, p. 1.
  13. "Riser wins Sheriff's race:, Minden Press-Herald, October 23, 1995, p. 1.
  14. "Riser sworn in as WP sheriff", Minden Press-Herald, July 2, 1996, p. 1.
  15. Dean v. Riser. caselaw.findlaw.com. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  16. Allen vs. Sheriffs Deputies of Webster Parish (United States Appeals Court for the Fifth Circuit). federal-circuits.vlex.com (2001). Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  17. Clint Land, "Sheriff to look into Penal Farm drug abuse rumor", Minden Press-Herald, August 8, 1996, p. 1.
  18. "Riser named to highway safety committee", Minden Press-Herald, November 20, 1996, p. 1.
  19. Results for Election Date: 10/23/1999: Webster Parish. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on September 19, 2014.
  20. "T. C. Bloxom, long-time Minden fire chief, dies", The Shreveport Times, July 14, 2014.
  21. Results for Election Date: 10/22/1983: Webster Parish. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  22. Ted Riser. zoominfo.com. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  23. KTBS-TV, Shreveport, Louisiana, July 30, 2003.
  24. Walker remembered as father, leader and friend. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  25. Josh Beavers (March 28, 2002). Dorcheat Center Ready at Last. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  26. KTBS-TV, October 21, 2003.
  27. Results for Election Date: 10/4/2003: Webster Parish. stateicresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  28. Larkin T. "Ted" Riser, Jr.: Ethics Board Docket No. 2008-658. domino.ethics.state.la.us (October 30, 2008). Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  29. Governor Bobby Jindal Announces the Reappointments to the Correctional Facilities Corporation Board of Directors​. gov.louisiana.gov (March 22, 2012). Retrieved on September 18, 2014.
  30. Riser named to board of prison corporation. zoominfo.com. Retrieved on September 18, 2014.

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