Dec 18, 2012 7:04 PM by Chris Welty
Eunice Police Chief, Ronald Dies is asking for more money for his department.
New officers are paid just more than nineteen thousand dollars a year. That's nine dollars and 75 cents a hour, one of the lowest wages of any department in Acadiana.
Just last week, three Eunice officers left the department to take higher paying jobs in Evangeline Parish.
The Chief says more money is needed to entice officers to stay.
"I do the job because I love it. I knew there wasn't a lot of money involved in police work."
Joshua Stelly has served with the Eunice Police Department for eight months. He's paid 11-hundred dollars a month. Health insurance alone is almost 11-hundred dollars a month, so there's no way he can afford to insure his family. When he's not at the police department, he's working one of his two other jobs to take care of his wife and newborn.
"I have a house note, two vehicle notes, and regular expenses. very hard, very difficult," said Stelly.
It's a similar sentiment for many first year officers in the department.
"They put their life on the line everyday to protect people and property. They don't ask a whole lot. We start them off at $9.75 an hour," said Chief Ronald Dies.
About 18-thousand dollars below the national average. Dies says many of his officers are living at or below the poverty line and many, like Stelly, can't afford health insurance.
As much as he doesn't want officers to leave, he understands they're trying to make a better living.
"Our officers are proud people and they do work hard to do their job to the best of their ability. We're not asking for a lot, pay them so they can survive and pay their bills monthly," said Dies.
If the council approves a raise, it would cost about 120- thousand dollars. Dies said it would avoid asking the public to raise taxes.
Other cities across the country with a population similar to Eunice pay starting officers about 37-thousand dollars a year according to Police Pay Journal.
Looking at pay scales around Acadiana, the Lafayette Police Department pays the most, starting officers at almost 32-thousand dollars a year.
Eunice and Kaplan are two of lowest paying agencies in Acadiana. Kaplan PD pays just more than 19-thousand dollars a year for a new officer.
Here's a look at other agencies:
Eunice : $19,656 per year $9.50 per hour
Lafayette PD: $31,960.80 per year $15.37 per hour
Ville Platte PD: $21,403.20 per year $10.29 per hour
ABBEVILLE: $20,160 per year $15.38 per hour
KAPLAN: $19,260.80 per year $9.26 per hour
OPELOUSAS: $27,000 per year $12.98 per hour
MORGAN CITY: 2055 per month $12.84 per hour
CROWLEY: $2,000 per month $12.50 per hour