Mar 6, 2012 11:27 PM by Shawn Kline
What would you do with a $20-million budget?
Lafayette Sheriff Mike Neustrom faces that question every year, balancing the needs of crime prevention and the cost to maintain the jail.
Then, there's crime stats.
In Lafayette Parish, the crime rate fell last year by almost four-percent but this comes one year after a 13-percent hike in crime. Sheriff Neustrom says it's a step in the right direction.
"We try to re-energize ourselves every year in terms of doing things better," Sheriff Neustrom said.
While the total number of crimes fell, Sheriff Neustrom says violent crimes and property crimes went up and those are some of the more difficult crimes to prevent.
So, how do you bring those numbers down?
Just about every program used to combat these crimes carries a price tag but when you crunch the numbers, some of the cheapest programs are the most effective. Take Neighborhood Watch for example.
"Neighborhood Watch would be a big one," Neustrom said. "It's increased substantially, the number of neighborhood watch groups and we meet regularly with those groups who are concerned about keeping an eye out for their neighbors goods."
Studies show an effective Neighborhood Watch program can decrease crime by as much as 16-percent but Sheriff Neustrom says that alone isn't enough.
Other programs like the Sheriff's Team for Advanced Response, or STAR, was put in place to target growing crime trends and stop them before they happen.
"I think all those things working together make Lafayette a great place and a safe place," Sheriff Neustrom said.
Neustrom says programs with the Lafayette Parish Correctional Facility also help deter crimes by rehabilitating convicted criminals and detering them from commiting more crimes.