When I was elected, I presumed that I would walk into a department fully functional. Not so. There appeared to be no current standard operating procedures and no working relationships with either St. Landry or St. Martin Parish Sheriff Departments. The town-issued phone I was given was wiped clean, as well as the office computer. The so-called evidence room was not secure and records were incomplete or missing. Case files were missing, misplaced or grossly insufficient. Prosecution rates were practically non-existent due to poorly written police reports that would not hold up in court. Aside from the state of the department, much of the equipment was inadequate for proper and professional application. Uniform standards were lax; there was no requirement for wearing vests, and weapons were inconsistent. The department's vehicles and radios were not properly aligned with law enforcement standards that focus on safety for the officer and functionality and utility for the work required.
Despite these deficiencies, the men and women of our department showed enthusiasm and an overall yearning for a higher standard of professionalism. Most were eager to take on a "rebuilding" of the APD alongside me, and quite willing to conform to the new standards. We moved together in the direction of progress, with little to no promises of reward.
I get some good-natured teasing for driving that "toy" car. After all, I am the Police Chief. But, I drive that car because the best equipped units should go to the men and women who are more likely to confront danger on any given day or hour. While building up the physical aspects of our department, I was also creating and promoting a new image, instilling pride in both the men and women of the Arnaudville Police Department and the citizens of our town.
I will be presenting a budget that includes raises for my employees. I will defend it vigorously, and invite any fair-minded citizen to support my recommendations, and any council member to fully consider the ramifications for our community when staffing and salary structure decisions are based entirely on finances and old traditions and claims, and not on what is best for the citizens and those who serve them in a 21st century environment. Show me a town’s budget, and I’ll tell you what its priorities are.