Aug 1, 2013 7:10 PM by Chris Welty
Advancement inside the Lafayette Police Department is a long time coming for some officers working years toward promotion.
In this week's budget meeting, Chief Jim Craft said he needs more money so he can keep the better officers on his payroll. The council even joked the police department has literally become a training ground for those that offer more like state police.
Craft says hiring freezes, low pay and the increase of insurance premiums has strained the department. Craft also says promotions aren't happening as fast as he and the officers would like because the officers can't survive on the pay they get while they wait for the years it takes to advance.
However, Thursday, a few were recognized for paying their dues and waiting it out.
For the first time in years, promotions and pay raises for three officer moving up from Sergeant to Lieutenant. Among them, new Lieutenant Mark Francis has 21 years under his belt at the Lafayette Police Department.
"A lot of folks get into law enforcement and put in 20, 25 years and never obtain the rank of Lieutenant. It's a great honor and a lot of work ahead," said Francis.
As employees move up, it also benefits those with less time.
"The men and women of the department are excited because when folks move up, it makes room for those behind you to step forward," said Francis.
Police Chief Jim Craft says, "We've got to do something for our lower ranking employees who we know will be a long time before they're able to advance up the ladder and make a little better pay and job duties."
Craft says moving up is based on seniority and passing promotional exams. He says it's important for the department to hold on to dedicated employees and recruit for the future.
"We are in the process of starting a very aggressive recruitment campaign to attract post certified candidates to our department."
Craft says he's committed to getting the best officers the department and hopes promotion ceremonies like these become routine.
Budget meetings will continue throughout the month.
The public will have an opportunity to give their input at a hearing on August 29th.