You’d think Louisiana lawbreakers would know by now, but if you’re going to commit a crime, you might want to do so outside the borders of St. Landry’s Parish.
Or, as we like to call him: “The Cajun John Wayne.”
An Army veteran and hardened street cop who rarely cracks a smile, Higgins is the star of weekly Crime Stoppers segments that garnered a cult following earlier this year, but are quickly moving mainstream thanks to the lieutenant’s back-country drawl, made-for-TV one-liners and refreshing honesty.
The lawman’s latest segment is an instant classic, one that has already racked up more than 1 million views on YouTube since it was posted online Friday. This clip finds the stern-looking Higgins outside Stelly’s Supermarket in the tiny town of Lebeau, La., the scene of a recent burglary that was caught on camera.
Higgins calls the establishment “a local favorite” whose owners represent “Southern hospitality at its best.” Higgins often knows the victims whose stories he highlights, but this time, he tells the audience, it’s truly personal.
“The sheriff likes Stelly’s restaurant, and so do I,” he says. “The food here is good, and the folks are friendly. We are going to identify you, arrest you and put you in a small cell. After that I’m going to have a cheeseburger here with fries and a Coke and leave a nice tip for the waitress.”
“Meanwhile,” he continues, taking a few intimidating steps toward the camera, “your next meal will be served through a small hole in a cell door.”
Moments before Higgins says the word “Coke,” a Coca-Cola truck pulls up in the background. The slick timing nearly defies believability, leading some skeptics to label the incident a “marketing masterstroke.”
But Higgins insists the truck’s arrival was merely coincidence; as he has said previously, his statements and videos are unscripted and from the heart. “If I’m sponsored by Coca-Cola, someone needs to tell me, so I can pick up my check,” Higgins told The Washington Post. “In the South, we refer to all soft drinks as ‘Coke.'”
Higgins has yet to get his man, but the video is making the rounds, appearing everywhere from CNN to Fox News Channel. It was even highlighted by Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” on Monday. The comedian ended his segment by asking whether Higgins could run for president.
Higgins told The Post he isn’t sure why this particular segment garnered so much attention.
“I can’t quite put my finger on it,” he said. “It was a very folksy one, but I think it might have been the part about the cheeseburger.”
Higgins said he appreciates the attention, but hopes his message isn’t overshadowed by his burgeoning celebrity. He intends to keep using the platform to push his message.
“The main ingredients of that message are respect for the Constitution and professional, meaningful public service that recognizes and empathizes with the people,” he said. “Public servants should put ourselves above no man, and we can focus on the redemptive nature of the human spirit and knowing that jail doesn’t have to be the end of the line for a fellow.”