Bunkie Police Dept. now fully-staffed
With the City Council’s approval of six auxiliary patrolmen and one full-time officer at the March 9 meeting, the Bunkie Police Department became fully staffed. The council also agreed to review applications for a full-time detective.
BPD now has 10 full-time patrolmen and dispatchers and 15 auxiliary patrolmen and dispatchers, Police Chief Bobby Corner said.
“I’m very pleased that it seems the council and the chief are cooperating to hire officers,” Councilman Travis Armand said. “We want the public to know that we are working together to hire policemen. He (Corner) is now giving us the background checks, which allows us to hire the officers. He now has the resources so he can run his department.”
For most of 2016, Corner and the council were at odds over the hiring of policemen because Corner refused to give the council information, including background checks, on the applicants for the positions.
Another good sign was that Corner asked the council to provide six portable radios for officers to use. Mayor Mike Robertson said he actually located eight radios for the police department.
The city also received the application of Lawrence “JoJo” Bordelon for a full-time detective position. The item was not on the agenda. Bordelon was a police officer in Marksville for 41 over years, including 30 years as a detective. He is one of seven Marksville city employees laid off to avoid a significant budget deficit.
“I will work to solve the crimes committed in Bunkie,” Bordelon told the council. “There will be no playing around.”
Councilman Greg Prudhomme made a motion to add the item to the agenda for a 30-day review process.
Resident Marvin Crawford was upset the process would take another 30 days and that Bordelon would not be hired until the April 13 meeting.
“That is our policy,” Prudhomme responded. “If the mayor feels the council has had enough time to review the application, he can call a special meeting -- but I’m just following the policy.”
Robertson indicated he may call a special meeting in a few weeks to consider Bordelon’s application.
“I’m proud of the progress we have made in the last 30 to 45 days,” Robertson said. “We will now move forward.”
Citizens in Bunkie have voiced concern about a number of recent crimes across the city, laying the blame on Corner and the City Council.
Members of the St. Anthony Neighborhood Watch group attended the meeting with a list of questions for Robertson to answer.
Robertson said the questions dealt with statistics and other information that either Corner or Ward/City Judge Digger Earles could provide to the council. The mayor said he would give the questions to the two officials and ask them to attend the April 13 meeting.
Rick Rabalais, a member of the Neighborhood Watch group, welcomed the newly hired police officers and asked them to get to know the community.
“You have a tough job,” Rabalais told the new BPD officers at the meeting. “While the job is tough, we are behind you.”
Rabalais’ wife, Christine, asked if the city could find grants to help the police department with salaries.
“I think Bunkie would qualify for grants,” she said.
Police department grants have been an issue in the past, with BPD losing or missing out on grant opportunities for various reasons. Corner said the department was disqualified from one grant program because it did not have POST-certified patrolmen at that time.
Councilwoman Brenda Sampson said statistics needed to obtain a grant were not provided by the police department in a timely manner.
Corner quickly responded that the city’s crime statistics are uploaded to a national database each year.