For the second month in a row, the main item of business and discussion at Tuesday's Ville Platte City Council meeting centered on the police department.
Due to budget restraints and a high turnover of police officers leaving to higher paying jobs, Police Chief Neal Lartigue announced again that he is forced to have only one officer on patrol per shift. The sheriff's department along with the state police and the city marshal have offered to help with backup.
Most members of the city council along with Mayor Jennifer Vidrine expressed the need to hire additional police officers and raise their pay a #1 priority. The goal is to raise the police starting pay is to $15 an hour. The department will have an additional $80-100,000 a year with the move to have the parish 9-1-1 take over the dispatching duties.
The council approved hiring two additional police officers: Matthew Willis and Drake Fontenot.
Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announced two new crime fighting measures: the launch of a new anonymous tip smart phone app and new street cameras. She said the cameras will be upgraded and used in high crime areas of the city. The free application can be downloaded to I-phones and Android phones. Callers can send text messages to the police department for crime tips to help deter crime. Go to the App store and look for the "Tip Ville Platte" app.
Mayor Jennifer said "We are all concerned about safety in our city. We want the shootings to stop. Parents, your child shooting a gun is not a game. Parents will be held accountable for their child's actions."
In other news, the city council :
--approved closing Southwest West railroad street from Main to Magnolia on May 16 for a street dance;
--asked the public and city councilmen to notify city hall to report pot holes on city streets;
--heard from Fire Chief Chris Harrison that 18 fire calls took place in January included 2 structure calls, four grass fires and one vehicle fire;
--was notified by Mayor Jennifer that the city spent $114,771 less in January than they did in December;
--announced that the next city council meeting will be held March 17 at 5;00pm;
--received a report from Police Chief Neal Lartigue that the police department responded to 276 calls, wrote 24 citations, investigated 50 misdemeanors , nine felony cases and 39 traffic accidents;
--got a report from Mayor Jennifer that she met with Centurylink officials to see if they could increase internet speed in the city.