Lafayette Police Chief eyes officer expansion, caseworker program in first budget
Lafayette’s recently minted Police Chief Thomas Glover is looking to add more officers and establish a crisis intervention program as he prepares for his first budget at Lafayette Consolidated Government.
Glover, a longtime member of the Dallas Police Department, became the first Black police chief to permanently lead LPD in December when he was appointed by Mayor-President Josh Guillory, inheriting a department in a crisis of community relations following the fatal police shooting of Trayford Pellerin in August.
Pellerin’s death spurred the dedication of $1 million in city funds for greater training for the city’s police, close to $760,000 of which has been either spent or earmarked to make LPD “one of the best trained, if not the best trained, in United States,” Glover told Lafayette’s City Council last week.
That training is focused on five key areas — de-escalation, use of force, protection of property, managing critical incidents and responding to mental health crises — Glover said.
“I think he's trying to make it as comprehensive as possible,” City Councilman Glenn Lazard said.
“I specifically told him I would like to see more in the form of de-escalation and anti-bias training. I think there's still a little bit of wiggle room in terms of how much is concentrated on these different areas. My specific request was having to do more with cultural sensitivity and bias.”
Glover is also working on plans to make his mark on the department as he enters his first Lafayette Consolidated Government budget season this summer, with a proposal to increase the size of the police force that would add between 15 and 18 new patrol officer positions to the department at a cost of about $1.3 million a year, he said.
“I would say, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 18 (officers). We need officers in some of the precincts and some of the shifts,” Glover told The Daily Advertiser this week.
“One squad has five (officers), so that is three squads of five each,” he added.
That increase in patrol officers could come alongside Glover’s efforts to launch a new Right Care program that will involve a mental health professional in some of the department’s responses to emergency calls.
“We want to start a program called the Right Care program where professional mental health workers respond with police officers, and when the need arises, they will be there to take over the situation and de-escalate and make it a diagnosis of what is necessary,” Glover told the City Council last week.
Lafayette would join a small group of cities across the country that have implemented similar programs, Glover said, none of which have seen caseworkers injured or harmed while working with police.
“It's a very receptive subject, when I talk to the council and the mayor and administration seem to be in line with it,” Glover said.
“One of the major calls that occurs is that a person is reported by a family member, or they tell us themselves, that they failed to take their medication and it manifests itself in us getting a call on some type of behavior that person might be exhibiting,” he added. “So we're going to be looking at that with this caseworker responding and assessing the individual right on the scene.”