More than $13 million dollars in federal funds Lafayette received as reimbursement for its COVID-19 response may be used to ensure competitive pay for city police and firefighters and for training police on how to handle non-lethal arrests.
Mayor-President Josh Guillory also plans to restore a 2% pay raise to city and parish employees.
Lafayette Consolidated Government has been reimbursed $13.8 million from the federal government's CARES Act through the Louisiana Office of Community Development for expenses incurred responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the expenses paid by LCG during the pandemic came from the City general fund.
Mayor-President Josh Guillory is proposing at a City Council meeting Tuesday the transfer of $10 million of CARES Act money from the City general fund to a new police and fire sustainability and reliability fund to pay local and state mandated cost-of-living pay raises for police and firefighters.
Competitive pay for the city's first responders is one of LCG's top priorities, Guillory wrote in an email attached to the proposal. A first step earlier this year increased the starting pay for police officers which will impact the City general fund for years. The $10 million will improve the city's ability to offer competitive pay for years to come while protecting the general fund, he said.
Another $1 million in CARES Act money would be used for comprehensive crisis management training for police officers in the wake of the shooting death of Trayford Pellerin by Lafayette Police.
Guillory pledged in September to use part of the coronavirus relief funds for de-escalation training following the Aug. 21 shooting death of Pellerin outside a gas station and convenience store. Police responding to a complaint of a man with a knife allegedly threatening people followed Pellerin on foot nearly a half-mile to the convenience store. As he approached the door to the store, the officers fired at least 10 times.
In a memo attached to the ordinance, Guillory said it's important for police officers to have the knowledge, tools and equipment to de-escalate violent situations and alternate non-lethal methods of handling such interactions for the safety of the officers and the community.
The fatal shooting is under investigation by the Louisiana State Police.
Finally, Guillory is proposing the councils restore a 2% pay raise for LCG employees. He left the pay raise out of the 2020-21 budget because of revenue shortfalls due to business closings for the COVID-19 pandemic. Guillory said in the memo he will propose the city and parish councils restore the pay raises at the first meeting of the 2020-21 fiscal year, which begins Nov. 1.