Dial Dalfred: Melville Police Chief sounding the alarm

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MELVILLE, La. (KLFY) – A small-town police chief is sounding the alarm saying town leaders are putting their community in harm’s way by neglecting the needs of the police department. Here’s the story in tonight’s Dial Dalfred report.

The typically quiet town of Melville is now the battleground for the police department and city hall. Oddly enough, they share a building but can’t seem to get on the same page when it comes to protecting the people of Melville.
The police chief’s problem: fuel.

In the current budget, the department is allowed $6,000 a year for gas; but Chief Anthony Moreau says providing 24-hour protection to the town for $500 bucks a month won’t cut it.

“And they want these officers to park these vehicles and come down here for $10 an hour, drive their vehicles to work and back, by the time they take out for the gas and taxes they won’t make enough to support their families,” Chief Moreau said.

According to dispatch logs, early morning requests from officers for fuel were rejected by town hall— Melville Mayor Velma Hendrix says she has an explanation for that.

Mayor Hendrix says, “The chief did not that. We cannot deal with these other people because they’re not in charge. You have to deal with the head.”

Chief Moreau says the disconnect between his department and city hall has led to fewer officers wanting to be apart of the department.

One officer resigned last week and with the chief now on medical leave, there are only one full-time and two part-time officers to provide 24-hour protection seven days a week to the people of Melville.

“I would just like to assure the citizens of Melville that the shortage of police protection is not my fault, it’s the fault of the mayor and the council for not wanting to provide fuel for us to patrol. So, if y’all need a police officer or if you have a complaint, effective next week, go knock on the mayor’s door, knock on the councilmembers’ door. If y’all need their phone numbers I can give it to you. Call them up, if it’s late at night wake them up, knock on their door, call their phone.”

The mayor says the town has other bills to pay and doesn’t have the money to give officers for gas when traveling to and from work; something the chief sees as an incentive to keep good officers. When it comes to the breakdown in communication, that mayor says “the chief does not give us the information that we ask him for. We ask him for a budget and we have not received it.”

I did ask the chief for his budget but he says he handed it over to the mayor’s office and did not have a copy.

As for police protection, Chief Moreau says he’s now having to forward some calls to Sheriff’s office because he doesn’t have the officers or the fuel to respond.

This should be a developing story, so we’ll follow it closely and report back to you when we get more details.

If there’s an ongoing issue in your neighborhood or community or there’s a story you’d like me to investigate, send me an email at DialDalfred@klfy.com.

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