Is public safety in Port Allen at risk?

Port Allen PD addressing officer shortage amid concerns

PORT ALLEN, La. (WAFB) - It’s a question some in Port Allen have been asking: Is safety in jeopardy?

"Not at all. There's no public safety issues as far as the police patrolling," said Port Allen Police Chief Esdron Brown.

Chief Brown says the department currently has three openings that he’s in the process of filling. In total, Chief Brown says the department has 21 positions. Five of those are office jobs: the chief, a captain, two detectives, and a secretary. The remaining 16 positions are full-time patrol officers. Of those, three are vacant. When asked how many officers work the roads per shift, Chief Brown responded, “It can vary from three to four because we took some officers and put them in school and got some of them doing the drug task force. We have one doing the drug task force and we also have some in DARE.”

Starting pay at the Port Allen Police Department is $36,000 per year.
Starting pay at the Port Allen Police Department is $36,000 per year. (Source: WAFB)

He says the average response time for the department is five minutes or less. During a 12-hour shift, Chief Brown says they average between three and five calls, but there are some shifts in which they have no calls at all. Port Allen officers are responsible for just over 5,000 people in their city. Chief Brown says the three to four officers per shift are enough to patrol Port Allen.

“Sometimes, we have worked with two officers per shift. We never go below two,” said Chief Brown. He adds they have never had only one officer patrolling.

“One of the rumors I heard this weekend, like on Friday, was that we had one officer not responding to help another officer on calls, which was totally mis-said, mis-worded. What we did, we got calls from the citizens about drugs, certain drug houses, so what we did is we put this officer to watch the house until he had to answer any calls and they had two more with that, so we had a total of four [officers] on Friday,” said Chief Brown.

He says the weekend of Nov. 23 and 24 alone, officers arrested six people in connection with drugs and recovered two stolen guns. Chief Brown admits his department has a high turnover rate for officers, but says recruiting new officers is a national problem. Officers shot or killed in the line of duty has reduced the number of people wanting to become officers. But he adds no matter how many men and women he adds to his force, they can’t solve crime without the community.

Officers with the Port Allen Police Department are responsible for patrolling a city of about 5,000 people.
Officers with the Port Allen Police Department are responsible for patrolling a city of about 5,000 people. (Source: WAFB)

“Look, law enforcement, we run to bullets, so we put our lives on the line every day and we do that to protect them, so we expect them to help us when we got things that aren’t solved, especially if they saw something,” said Chief Brown.

Anyone with information about a crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 225-344-STOP (7867).

The starting pay for the Port Allen Police Department is $36,000 per year. Anyone interested in applying can do so online here.

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.