LAFAYETTE, LA — Lafayette police are one step closer to getting a long-awaited pay raise.
The city-parish council introduced an ordinance tonight with a$3.8M price tag.
Rows and rows of uniformed men and women sat, stood and spoke one Tuesdays meeting for one cause.
“We’ve lost so many good men and women, my brothers and sisters in blue, and the reason I keep hearing is because of pay”, one police officer told the council.
She’s one of about 80 officers who attended the meeting in support of an amendment to the police pay plan. The amendment would raise starting pay from $34K to $40K, but also increase the pay and retirement for other ranks. Lafayette police say it is essential because, in the last two years, 57 patrol officers have left the city and state for higher-paying departments.
Even a half dozen officers in the crowd admitted to being in the hiring process with other agencies. “they are probably going to get hired”, said Police Association of Lafayette president Cpl. David Stanley.
The department is calling it a crisis, and although the full council supported the raise, how to fund the $3.8M a year is a concern.
Alterations were proposed to defer the discussion to the next council, supplement the cost by eliminating overtime pay, or cutting unfilled positions.
None passed, and the audience’s patience was wearing thin.
Even the Chief of Police is Toby J. Aguillard had enough. “These games are hurting my officers”, he said to Kenneth Broussard who proposed two of the alterations.
The long-awaited approval vote to move forward to vote on another meeting was met with great applause, but with knowledge future cuts will be necessary.
“Let’s look at it all”, said District 5 Councilman Jared Bellard. “Cutting everything to fund the most important thing which is, at least for me and my family, safety”.
Bellard told the Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG) Chief Financial Officer Lorrie Toups to look into a pay freeze or eliminating all unfilled positions within LCG for a discussion in the next city-parish council meeting
Lafayette Deputy Chief Reginal Thomas said the last department raise was in 2014 and other police departments in Duson, Broussard, and Scott all have higher starting pay salaries.