- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft has a $22 million wish list, including a proposal to add 40 patrol officers, build a new a police station and add two new precinct substations.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1yIT9wh ) the proposal came at a meeting Monday of the city-parish Future Needs/Funding Sources Committee, an advisory group created by the City-Parish Council in February to map out strategies to address the needs of local government.

The $22 million wish list was mainly for facilities - $15 million for a new police station and $1 million for two new precinct substations - but also included $1 million for an updated records management system and $350,000 for a new mobile command center.

City-parish officials have just begun to talk of the need for a new police station.

The department moved into its current headquarters in 1997.

The building, which is about 36 years old, once served as offices for an oil and gas company and has long had structural problems.

“It’s pretty old now, so all the equipment is starting to fail,” Craft said.

He said the department would like to build a modern facility in a more central location.

Outside of one-time money for new facilities, Craft’s wish list included about $4 million for 40 new officers, as well as their training and equipment.

Craft said the department now has funding for 257 officers, but he said that number should be north of 300 for a city the size of Lafayette.

Craft also pushed Monday for better starting pay for new recruits.

He said a boost is badly needed to attract and keep top candidates.

Starting pay for an entry-level officer in Lafayette is $31,960 a year, which is below what some smaller law enforcement agencies in the area are paying.

“We have to get our starting salary to about $36,000 a year,” Craft said.

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

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