Police pay causes some issues for the city of Jennings

Police pay is an issue across Southwest Louisiana -- but is a huge issue for one small community. Some of the Jennings police force say they're facing low morale due to their insufficient pay.

Sergeant Ewing, who has been an officer in Jennings for over 18 years says he's tired of the substandard pay. "We've been going through this for years now...always giving excuses that they don't have any money and we're tired of it."

The base pay for a patrolman before completing training academy is a little over $8.00 an hour. Lieutenant Billodeaux says, "You can go down to Mcdonald's and get hired on as a night janitor at $8 an hour."

He also says officers in other small communities within a 30 mile radius are paid much better. "You can go to five communities our same size in population or less and make anywhere from two to five dollars an hour starting pay."

The city of Jennings, who's responsible for paying these officers say being a policeman here comes with a sacrifice.

Mayor Terry Duhon says, "If you wanna work here, you have to be willing to accept lower pay."

Since Mayor Duhon has been in office he says police have received raises.  Mayor Duhon says, "I've been the mayor since October of 2003 and since that time i've gone through two different budget periods and in that period of time we've given a 26 percent increase."

Officer Priscilla wise says there are other ways for policemen to make more money.  She says, "Would everybody here like a raise...yeah..I'm sure they would but there's other ways that they could uh.... They could work overtime and increase their pay."

But some officers say it's still not enough.  Now the Association of Jennings Police plan to meet this Thursday to discuss police pay issues. This meeting will be open to all Jennings police officers. Mayor Terry Duhon says he also plans to look into the issue.