BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police Union released a statement Friday morning to express its opposition to the proposed incorporation of the City of St. George, saying it could possibly jeopardize public safety.
Cpl. Chris Stewart, president of the BR Union of Police Local 237, said the union believes incorporation will harm the efforts officers have made in fighting crime and lead to "disastrous unintended consequences."
He said public safety is a big part of the budget and one of the few areas that can be cut during shortfalls. He added a recently released study by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) stated, "Police protection accounts for 29 percent of the (EBR) city-parish General Fund."
According to Stewart, any reduction to the police budget will make it more difficult to control crime throughout the parish and he said the BRAC report stated, "Lost revenue caused by the formation of the City of St. George will cause a 20 percent reduction in services for police protection."
The Committee to Incorporate St. George issused the following response the the police union's statement:
It's no surprise that another Baton Rouge Union has come out against the formation of the City of St George. To use the potential loss of essential public services within the city of Baton Rouge as a scare tactic is irresponsible, reprehensible and blatantly false. We have clearly shown the financial impact to the City of Baton Rouge general fund is significantly less that the BRAC/BRAF sponsored report shows. ( http://www.stgeorgelouisiana.com/latest-news/response-to-brac-and-braf-report ) The City of Baton Rouge should focus their attention on addressing their spending problems instead of using scare tactics to incite fear. Furthermore, this validates our argument that unincorporated parish tax dollars are being spent on City of Baton Rouge services resulting in residents of St. George being double taxed. The City of Baton Rouge, and the Baton Rouge Police Union's stance is just another example of the back room dealmaking citizens throughout the parish - and particularly in the unincorporated areas have grown tired of.
Nick Foley will have more on this story later in the day.