- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The Lafayette Police Department wants to install crime cameras in troubled neighborhoods throughout the city, allowing officers to monitor activity from headquarters and on their laptop computers.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1oaPKgB ) the department’s proposed budget for next fiscal year sets aside $700,000 for the cameras.

The plan is to install about 50 cameras in selected neighborhoods for surveillance of street activity, Police Chief Jim Craft said at a city-parish budget hearing on Tuesday that also delved into a proposal to raise stagnant police pay.

The police chief said he views the cameras as a way to effectively extend the reach of his officers and give them the ability to cover more ground through the use of technology.

“A lot of communities now have cameras just about everywhere,” Craft said. “We look at it as force multiplier.”

“We don’t have any cameras in neighborhoods at this time,” Craft said.

Craft said he expects the cameras to be in place by 2016, assuming council approval.

The proposed budget for next year also sets aside $782,000 for pay raises, bringing starting pay up to $2,850 a month.

But the local police union on Tuesday floated an alternative $1.4 million pay plan that would bring starting salaries up to $2,916 a month and offer more generous pay bumps up through the ranks.

Cpl. Dorian Brabham, president of the Police Association of Lafayette, said the union’s plan is needed to make up for years of stagnant pay.

The final figure for the police pay plan is still in play and could change before the final budget adoption this year.

“There is really no right answer. It’s what you can do with available funds,” said City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley.

Craft said he would favor a compromise between the administration’s current proposed pay plan for police and the union’s most recent proposal.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com