VILLE PLATTE, LA — With less money and fewer officers, the city of Ville Platte is still learning how the new city budget will affect their police department.
Tonight, they filled every empty patrol position; however, they won’t be seeing the impact immediately.
“We threw money at the crime. It didn’t resolve the crime.”-Bryant Riggs, Ville Platte city councilman
Ville Platte new city budget has had some growing pains.
Ville Platte Mayor Jeniffer Vidrine said after Tuesday’s city council meeting, “I think things are going well. It might be too early to tell”.
One area where things haven’t been going well is in the police department.
They’ve been massively understaffed since the budget went into effect in July, but things started to turn around with five new patrolmen joining the department.
“We won’t get it back to where it was”, admitted Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue. Once five new officers are trained, his department will be fully staffed though smaller than it once was.
“I’m just gonna have to live with it and do the best with what we have”, said Lartigue.
The decision was made based off of research”, City Councilman Bryant Riggs said about the budget cuts. He told me the department needed to shrink.
At the beginning of 2019, Ville Platte police had a budget of $2.3 million dollars with 28 people on staff. Compare that to Rayne, a smaller city which runs department on $1.7 million dollar budget and a 48-person staff.
Riggs said, “It’s just not managing the money right.”
“The biggest problem was the overtime. One officer had a 20,000 dollar a year salary, but he made over 35,000 dollars in overtime in one year. That’s more than even the police chief made.
Riggs says that type of spending is an irresponsible use of resources, “Giving $120,000 dollars in overtime, with an officers salary of about $20,000 you could have hired five, six officers.”
For now, Mayor Vidrine hopes these adjustments are will result in what’s best for the city, “Our main priority for the council and myself is the safety of Ville Platte”.
The city council also approved three patrol officers last month. The mayor says their training is complete, and they are patrolling now.