The Police Department will launch a police academy in August to train 25 new officers, Mayor-President Kip Holden and Police Chief Dewayne White announced Wednesday.
It will be Baton Rouge’s first police academy since 2009, Holden said.
“One critical aspect of keeping our city safe is our ability to keep a strong, well-trained police force on the streets,” Holden said.
The new officers will work in “high-crime areas,” White said.
Police spokesman Sgt. Donald Stone said those areas are Plank Road near North Acadian Thruway, and Highland Road between the Mississippi River and Interstate 10.
The academy’s 20-week program begins Aug. 22 and ends Jan. 9, White said.
The program will cost about $110,000 per cadet for an overall cost of about $2.64 million, White said.
Holden said the new academy will be financed by the city-parish general fund.
He said the city has seen an “uptick” in sales tax revenue so far this year, which made funding the police academy more feasible.
“After all the finances were reviewed, we came to the conclusion that we could fund the additional people that the chief has mentioned,” Holden said.
Holden said he was not sure if another police academy would be budgeted for 2012.
White said the Police Department is allotted 672 officers by the city but is down about 70 officers.
“This (police academy) doesn’t bring us to our optimal numbers, but it does help,” White said.
White also announced the Baton Rouge City Jail will conduct a two-week trial period of 24-hour operation to house people arrested for misdemeanors.
The jail, run by the Baton Rouge City Constable’s Office, operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“In the interest of public safety, I believe that this is not only a necessary step in the right direction, but a step that we as a community must commit ourselves to on a permanent basis,” White said.
The two-week period will start July 22, City Constable Reginald Brown said.
Brown said the trial period will help determine the feasibility of keeping the jail open 24 hours a day.
“The key to addressing the criminal problems we have on these streets is to get them off the streets,” Brown said.
Brown said people arrested during the trial period for any misdemeanor — except driving while intoxicated or domestic abuse — will be taken to City Jail.
Prisoners arrested for DWI or domestic abuse will go to Parish Prison, Brown said.
During this trial, prisoners held in City Jail for 48 hours who do not pay fines or post bail will be taken to Parish Prison, Brown said.