Central Police Department to get assistant chief

Central Police Department to get assistant chief
Photo provided by staff
Louisiana Politics
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 10:25pm

A long debate ended with an addition to the small Central Police Department.

After approximately two hours, the city council approved an ordinance Tuesday night to create the position of Assistant Chief.

The department has only had one paid member, the chief, since the city of Central was formed. That is the minimum required by state law. There are also ten reserve officers, who are unpaid and work on a part-time basis.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office and Louisiana State Police have provided supplemental police coverage for the city, as they do unincorporated areas within the parish. But Sheriff Sid Gautreaux asked Central to do more to police itself.

"Our new chief is out there hustling, and I expect all of us of Central to back him up," former police chief Doug Browning said. "We need that help."

The council voted to give Chief James Salsbury $55,000 to both hire an assistant chief and to rent new office space.

Seven residents, including Browning, spoke in favor of the changes, while 13 people said they opposed the decision. Critics said they needed more proof that crime was an increasing problem; worried that hiring an assistant chief would be the first step toward creating a large department requiring tax increases for funding; and the lack of a proper job description meant the city did not know what it was getting for its money.

Councilman Wayne Messina proposed putting off a vote for three months, to gather more information about the necessity of creating a second paid position within the police department, but that motion was rejected by a 3-2 vote.

Salsbury, who took office July 1, told the council he envisioned having four full-time, paid officers by the year 2019, with 25 reserve officers. After ten years, he would like to see the department handle all of its own traffic and uniformed patrol services, while relying on the Sheriff's Office only for expensive services like homicide, narcotics, and SWAT.

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