Gonzales approves police reorganization plan

Wade McIntyre

The Gonzales City Council approved a reorganization of the city police department which Police Chief Sherman Jackson said will better enable the department to manage its resources and provide accountability within ranks and to the public.

The unanimous move at the regular meeting Monday provides for the addition of two lieutenants and two corporals to the police force.

Jackson said the lieutenants will work to make sure goals and standards are being met, while the corporals will be responsible to the neighborhood, senior citizen and public relations programs.

The corporals will also assume some of the work performed by detectives and help small businesses with misdemeanor crimes, such as fraud and bad checks, he said.

The lieutenants will report on three levels in the patrol division, answering to Jackson, the assistant chief of police and a captain.

“There is a need for us to gain a good close relationship with the public in order to keep the bad guys away,” Jackson said.

The new positions will be manned by four department officers who will promoted to the higher pay levels, Jackson said. The reorganization will cost about $14,000 each year in extra salary costs.

Each of the officers will gain more responsibilities and duties with the promotion, the chief said.

The existing police department structure is about 40 years and has seen an increase to a force of 45 over the years, Jackson said.

The promotions must be approved by the Civil Service Board, Jackson said.

With reorganization, the department will have nine officers patrolling during days and seven at night, according to the chief.

Councilman John Cagnolatti said he liked the plan because it spread the management level around creating more reporting levels.

Councilman Terance Irvin expressed approval of the reorganization in part because it will include community involvement.

In an unrelated matter, Mayor Barney Arceneaux reported that State Treasurer John Kennedy said the official population of the city is now over 10,000 for the first time at 10,401. The higher numbers place the city in a new category for obtaining grants.

“We’re pretty excited about that,” Arceneaux said.

In other business, the council approved spending $174,000 on the Phase II portion of its sidewalk project which will go behind the East Ascension High School baseball field and include benches and lights. By spending the money, the city is eligible for a a $300,000 grant from the state to be applied to the project, City Clerk Clay Stafford said.

Also, city engineer Glenn Shaheen reported that the West Worthey Road Phase II project is about 38 percent complete, and said the city is ready to advertise for bids to construct some of the turn lanes projects that it plans to build.