Lafayette Police Outline Plans for 2018
Jan 10, 2018 09:45AM ● Published by Michelle Dunbar
The Lafayette Police Department announced it will hire 10 new officers and create a new precinct dedicated to keeping the Hub City’s downtown and Simcoe areas safe.
Police Chief Toby Aguillard said the officers will be “specifically trained” to deal with area-centric issues such as homelessness, transit issues and downtown-specific business issues, as well as open drug use and violent crime.
“There are all sorts of things that are unique to our downtown and Simcoe areas that our officers don’t seem to face in other precincts,” Aguillard said.
Dubbed the Entertainment Precinct, the area will absorb parts of precincts one and four - areas where police say violent crime is more prevalent - and allow officers to concentrate their efforts in each precinct.
The project is funded through a grant from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Community-Oriented Police Services, which awarded LPD $1,249,999 to hire officers. The grant covers about 84 percent of the cost and will bring LPD’s total to 277 officers.
The Entertainment Precinct is slated to go into effect in late summer.
The new precinct is one of multiple plans to increase police effectiveness. Other plans include the development of two substations in South Lafayette, a security plan for local churches, and a newly created social media investigator position. The investigator will comb the internet to detect crimes against children and possibly curb violent crimes before they occur.
The department saw a rise in homicides in 2017, increasing from 16 the year before to 24. Aguillard said the rise reflects a probable “uptick in crime” across the country. Deputy Chief of Police Reginald Thomas noted that all homicides reported in Lafayette were successfully investigated.
Aguillard said the department’s success is due in part to the community’s co-operation with LPD.
According to the Chief, “When people trust you, they’re willing to give you information, certainly that helps our detectives every day when it comes to solving every crime, including the homicides ... We enjoy a good relationship with our community in Lafayette, between the community and the police department. It’s something we’ve worked towards every day.”
Lafayette Police will continue to reach out to the community, whether through its plans to incorporate safety education programs in local middle and high schools or helping local pastors devise safety plans for their congregations in wake of recent violent attacks on churches across the U.S.
NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of homicides in 2017 and 2016.