Port Allen adopts new rules for police hires

The City Council on Wednesday night unanimously adopted an ordinance that will force recently hired police officers to reimburse the city for the money spent to train and outfit them if they leave the city’s Police Department within two years.

The new measure, which was proposed by Councilman Garry Hubble, is an attempt to address the department’s increasingly high turnover rate.

During the council’s committee meetings last month, At-Large Councilman R.J. Loupe expressed frustrations about having to authorize the hiring of up to a dozen new officers over 18 months.

The department is authorized to fill positions for 16 patrol officers, two detectives, a captain and a secretary, McCain said. The police chief is elected.

Officials said many of the departing police officers left the department to work in neighboring parishes with higher salaries. They estimated the city spent as much as $2,000 on training and equipment for each officer.

Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain said the ordinance mirrors one the council passed several years ago for the city’s Fire Department.

McCain said, “No one ever left” after the fire department’s ordinance was adopted.

New police officers who have not completed their Peace Officer Standards and Training certification will now have to sign a two-year contract with the city under the stipulations of the new ordinance.

Should they leave before that contract expires, the ordinance says the city will prorate the officer’s reimbursement amount based upon the time that officer had been with the Port Allen force.

City Attorney Lance Joseph told council members he is in the process of drafting the employment contract based on several recommendations from Police Chief Esdron Brown — who expressed support of the measure.

“We need to add certain language to it regarding if we have cause to terminate an employee within that two-year period,” Joseph said during Wednesday night’s council meeting. “The contract has to be very specific with what we have to do and what they have to do.”

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