The new Opelousas police chief is checking boxes off the list for the goals he set while running for police chief. Martin McLendon promised to get more boots on the ground, and he is doing just that.
Before becoming police chief, he had more than 25 years of law enforcement experience. During his campaign, he promised the citizens would see more officers on the street in every area of town.
“The first thing I’m going to do [is] I’m going to put the men and women, we only have about 39-40 officers, I am going to put every officer back on the street. That’s number one. They have to go to work,” McLendon said.
That was in November when he learned he would be in a runoff. Now, 16 days into his current term, he has held true to his promise.
“The patrol division was stacked most of the time with a lieutenant, a sergeant, and possibly two patrolmen and maybe three. That gives you five officers, working the city whether it was day or night,” McLendon said on Wednesday.
He says that is now a thing of the past.
“Our motto is all hands on deck. That means from the chief of police on down to participate in fighting crime. You can’t have an office job and be comfortable. We want to make them uncomfortable in their comfortable positions. We want to get them out of the office and get them to help the officers in the zone,” McLendon explained.
The chief hasn’t been able to do it alone. Major Mark Guidry, who is the patrol commander, has executed the new assignment.
“Now, 28 of those officers will be dedicated to uniform patrol duty. The other 11 officers will be performing some special services that are needed,” Guidry said.
Both McLendon and Guidry agree that the next task is to hire more officers. They need a total of 12. Although, they know they won’t be able to hire them all at once.
“Somebody has to be here to do the work, so we are asking all of our officers to put in some extra hours and do some extra duty that is required to provide the best safe outcome for everyone in the city,” Guidry said.
Chief McLendon says he is pleased with the work that is being done so far; however, his officers are making just over 13 dollars an hour, and he is working to get them a pay increase. He wants to retain the officers he has and make the city more desirable for other officers.