YOUNGSVILLE — By the end of next week, the city of Youngsville will have four new police officers patrolling the streets, cops who will share public safety duties with the current 10 officers on the city’s roster.
Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux said the four new officers are veterans who hail from area police agencies and sheriff’s offices. The new guys won’t be the new guys for long: Another six will join in the coming months to double the patrol officer rolls to 20.
Boudreaux, who just started his first term after handily defeating incumbent Chief Earl Menard in the Nov. 4 election, said the department also has the city’s first detective.
The Youngsville City Council, a five-member board that has four new members, this month approved hiring the 10 patrol officers. And last week, the council approved leasing four squad cars for the four incoming officers.
“What they (the council) did was they gave me a short-term fix,” Boudreaux said.
He said the council — which has all new members except for Dianne McClelland — are getting acquainted with the budget and how the city funds its departments.
Mayor Ken Ritter, who also is newly elected, said Boudreaux is building the department to an appropriate size. He said the city has the money to fund the additional manpower.
Ritter, who served as a councilman for one term before he became mayor, said the council’s decision to lease four police cars for 12 months was prudent: The short-term financial obligation will give the council, mayor and police chief an opportunity to see if sales tax receipts decline, rise or stay flat.
Ritter said a future decision on how to replace aging police cars, which the city has historically purchased instead of leased, will be made at a later date. The city’s fiscal year begins July 1.
Government officials across south Louisiana are keeping an eye on sales tax receipts in light of oil’s steep decline in price since last summer. The region’s oil and gas service companies, which employ thousands, including those in Youngsville, are bracing for bad economic times.
“That’s always going to be a concern,” Boudreaux said. “Lafayette’s so much involved in the oil and gas industry. I’m sure there will be some streamlining of services.”
New Councilman Matt Romero said he voted for the additional patrol officers because Youngsville is growing.
Romero in a mid-January council meeting urged caution in making long-term financial decisions. Last week, he said he wants to make sure the city doesn’t over-obligate itself.
“With the rapid expansion of our city comes growth in other areas, such as police departments,” Romero said but noted, “Our city’s in a real good situation financially.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Youngsville residents are young, college educated, and affluent compared to the rest of Louisiana. For instance, Youngsville and its sister city Lafayette show far different levels of affluence: Youngsville’s median household income is $102,309, while Lafayette’s is $46,288, according to 2013 census estimates.
Compared to other cities, Youngsville’s crime rate and severity are enviable: Most crime calls to Youngsville police dispatchers involve vehicle burglaries, and those are in cars and trucks left unlocked, Boudreaux said.
“They (burglars) are lazy,” Boudreaux said. “They don’t want to work for it. They go for the unlocked vehicles.”
Illegal drugs in Youngsville are a problem, though unlike in other cities, drug transactions and usage are not out in the open, Boudreaux said.
“It’s going to take some investigations. There are drugs in Youngsville,” he said.