One of the major wish list items on the Baton Rouge Police Department’s budget request for 2016 is money to buy hundreds of new vehicles to replace aging, high-mileage cars and motorcycles.
Government departments and agencies recently submitted their lists of budgetary needs for next year from the East Baton Rouge Parish government.
The Police Department, which had a budget of $86.8 million this year, is asking the city-parish for more than $10.6 million in additional funding next year to buy vehicles, increase overtime pay opportunities and provide other supplies.
The bulk of that extra money is to start replacing their fleet of cars and motorcycles. The majority of the cars in the Baton Rouge fleet are more than 5 years old and have more than 150,000 miles on them, according to Police Department officials.
Lt. Jonny Dunnam, a Police Department spokesman, said maintenance costs increase by 50 percent after three years, so cycling vehicles out by putting them out for public auction generates money while decreasing maintenance costs.
There’s no rotation in place, so police vehicles are driven until they break down or until the department gets enough money to buy a few cars at a time.
This is the largest fleet allocation the agency has requested in recent memory, Dunnam said, adding that requests for vehicle money would decrease after this.
The agency plans to purchase 200 vehicles and 10 Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
The Police Department also is requesting $523,800 more in overtime pay for officers, which would bring the total requested for overtime in 2016 to $4.8 million. The extra money is needed because of the growth in activities and events downtown, according to budget documents.
“With the revitalization of the downtown area, there is a growing demand to schedule new events such as pageants, festivals, parades, walks and other functions that require road closures and police protection,” the request states.
The Mayor’s Office is expected to release a draft of the 2016 budget in November, which will then go to the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council for approval in December.
Public safety agencies, including city police, the city Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services, make up some of the most significant allocations in the parish budget.
The budget is requesting another police academy for 30 new officers to begin in the second half of 2016 to address the loss of officers to retirements.
The Police Department is also asking for $427,850 to purchase 50 new computers, 50 laptops and new network servers to replace equipment that is more than 11 years old.
Officials also want $270,000 to overhaul the agency’s helicopter, which requires an upgrade after 4,400 hours of flight time. The helicopter is used in place of dangerous vehicle pursuits, and to help find lost children and missing individuals, Dunnam said.
In addition, the agency is seeking $645,000 for building maintenance at the department’s new location on Airline Highway, and another $1.6 million for supplies, including digital cameras, crime cameras, furniture and radar guns.