ABBEVILLE, La. (KLFY) – Police chief Mike Hardy nearly doubled the starting salary pay for his department. 

“We were paying roughly 26,000 a year since I started here; July 1, we kept putting out applications. People would come and look at the application, but nobody would turn them in,” he said. “Since the council passed that starting pay at 40,000 a year which made us competitive with Lafayette, Scott, Broussard, and Youngsville. That put us up there with pretty much anybody, and we probably have a better insurance policy and benefits for our officers.” 

While talking to News 10, he had five applications on his desk, and five more potential recruits were coming in. 

“We need the police officers. We are getting to the point where we can be picky now. We’re starting to get really good officers and some without experience.” 

However, he said that having some officers without experience has its pros. 

“You can mold them the way you want them to be. You give them a good work ethic—a good honest person,” he said. “You hire a good man and show him the right way, and then you have a good police officer, and you teach them a good work ethic. You give them a decent salary, and someone with a small family can actually afford to be a police officer.” 

For Chief Hardy, his goal is to have the best officers to keep Abbeville safe. However, to get the salary changed, he had to make some adjustments. Before, his department needed 39 personnel. Today they have 24 and need eight. 

“The city council says this is going to cost this, and we need to try to adjust just what we’re doing. They asked me to drop the number of police officers that we would be looking for, and our budget goes year by year, so I figured if we could get to the 32 personnel for the police department that they allotted me, that should put us right about where we need to be,” he said. “When we’re adequately staffed with 32 personnel, I think we will have the right amount to get our job done here in Abbeville.” 

Scott Police Department is another department dealing with the police shortage. Chief Chad Leger told News 10 that they are down about five to six people out of 34 needed personnel. 

“Police shortage has been a problem for the Scott police department and nationwide. It’s a problem that we’ve seen pre-COVID. Post-COVID, it’s gotten worse, and it’s a continuing problem in our profession,” he said. 

For his department, salary is not the issue rather, he said the applications are ‘slim to none.’

“We’ve had applicants that come. Unfortunately, there’s been problems in their background checks or parts of the hiring process where we wouldn’t weren’t able to accept some people who are looking into maybe getting into law enforcement because of their past history,” he added. 

Chief Leger also said that society is hard on law enforcement, to where there is not a line of people waiting to become police officers. He said he noticed many officers are not leaving to go to other agencies but going into the private sector since it is growing in construction and the development increase going there.

“They’re leaving law enforcement to go into the private sector because it’s a lot less risky for their families, the liabilities, the controversy, and just the way society is towards law enforcement. The antis, I should call it,” said Chief Leger. “It’s a tough time, and we’re just trying to look at all the different avenues as far as what we can use for recruiting tools and for making things a better offer for this younger generation.” 

In contrast, while the hiring process for ADP is a long one, Chief Hardy wants applicants to remember “[we] want good, qualified people. You don’t want anyone with baggage. You want them to be able to come to work and do their job. You don’t want anybody that has a lot of baggage that’s going to drag them down, and they won’t be able to provide services that we need for people here.” 

He said that the position provides take-home units, a great benefits plan, free health insurance, and a low premium for families. He said within a year and a half; he sees the department making a salary of $50,000 a year. You can apply to Abbeville or Scott Police Department online or in person at the department.