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Coordinator Spotlight: Lt. Michael Brooks
September 25, 2023
Lt. Michael Brooks, a Prime Time program coordinator for four years, has been in law enforcement for 32 years.
He started his career in 1995. Raised by a minister, he knew he wanted to help people, but wasn’t sure what career path he wanted to pursue. He decided to try law enforcement, where he bounced from patrol to detective work, and then finally to working in schools. It was in schools that he began to find his path in his hometown of Donaldsonville, Louisiana.
“I was a poor kid myself, and the needs of the families and children in these neighborhoods was just… I wanted to help. The literacy rates are really low,” he said.
In 2017, he got a chance to make a big difference. With the support of the community, the sheriff at the time, Jeff Wiley, opened a community center at a former school in response to an uptick in crime. Named the Hickley M. Waguespack Center — or the Wag Center, as it’s known — the center is a substation of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Lt. Brooks has led the Wag Center since its opening.
“At the center, we do our homework together. We learn together. We play together. I pump everything I can at these kids – sports, books, whatever I can. Our sheriff, Bobby Webre, the work he does, it’s not for political gain. He does it because he cares,” Brooks said.
The center has become a neutral space – a safe haven – where the community can gather. In addition to Prime Time, the center provides a place for job fairs, a Back-to-School Bash, expungements, and Girl Scout meetings for incarcerated mothers and their daughters.
“We had homicides in broad daylight in our little bitty town. And we built that center in the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a safe place for children, families, grandparents, and grown people to express themselves. It’s a hub and a lighthouse of hope and opportunity,” he said.
Prime Time serves not only as a way to bring families together and promote literacy but also to talk about important issues affecting the community.
“For parents, we know they are working and it’s a long day so, yes, we are going to have a good meal and we are going to have good conversations. It’s kind of like a good night at the movies. It’s not church. It’s not school. It’s something different. We have hard conversations, but they are real, and everybody appreciates it,” he said.