With budgets strapped, Louisiana State Police and the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are looking at combining resources so they can train new law enforcement officers.
State Police has not had a cadet class since 2009, when 78 troopers graduated. The number of troopers statewide is now 992, down from a high of 1,152.
It’s approaching two years for an academy for new Wildlife and Fisheries agents.
State fiscal woes have put on hold cadet academy plans for each.
“We have been talking about it since the legislative session trying to put something together,” State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said Wednesday. “We are constantly trying to be creative” to come up with ways to do things with less money, he said.
“We are looking at it,” said Col. Winton Vidrine, chief of wildlife and fisheries enforcement division. He said the idea looks promising and numbers are being crunched to determine what kind of cost-savings could be achieved.
The two agencies conduct separate cadet academies to train new enforcement officers at two different locations. About half, if not more, of the time is spent as each participant goes through Peace Officers Standards and Training certification required of all law enforcement officers.
Under discussion is conducting the POST section of the academy together at the State Police headquarters to share resources and costs. Then, each agency would go off on its own to do the special training each job requires.
“We are looking at the numbers,” Edmonson said. “If we could save money, why wouldn’t we?”
Edmonson said he would like to have at least a 25-person class. “If I could get the cost down to around $200,000, that to me is workable,” Edmonson said.
He said he has more than 100 vacancies at State Police of which 30 to 35 positions continue to be funded so the dollars could potentially be used toward paying for a cadet class.
Vidrine said he would like to get an academy for 30 to 35 cadets for jobs in his agency.
The two agencies have been discussing the potential combined class with Civil Service in connection with a Wildlife and Fisheries request to pay cadets and entry-level agents the same as State Police cadets and entry level officers.
The Civil Service Commission on Wednesday approved a special entrance rate policy for Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement academy cadets and agents of $1,369.60 biweekly effective immediately. The salaries of 16 agents who make less today would be affected, Civil Service Director Shannon Templet said.
Cadets have made $990 biweekly and entry-level agents $1,060 every other week.
“We have to be competitive,” Vidrine said. If there is a different pay scale at the entrance level, it automatically creates a problem, he said.