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Eunice city council votes to eliminate deputy chief position

Eunice Police
Posted at 3:50 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 16:36:38-04

EUNICE, La. — In Eunice, a vote to cut the deputy chief position has been made by the city council because of the budget.

The position became vacant after the current deputy chief retired. The police chief then recommended a new person to fill the seat.

However, the council looked at how much it would cost to keep that position. While the council is hoping to save money, the chief says it's at the expense of safety for the city.

Chief Randy Fontenot says he's gone over his budget of $75,000. Currently the department has used $147,000. A majority of that money comes from overtime in fighting crimes.

"It costs money to do that," Fontenot said. "That's what I'm elected to do is to protect this city and the people in it. If I have to spend more money on overtime than the city council wants me to, I guess we'll just have to do it."

He added, "If the city council doesn't like it, they can control my budget. However, they're going to have to tell the public that we're not gong to have police protection because we don't want to pay for it."

Fontenot says the department is short-staffed. Because of this, Fontenot says his high ranking officers, like deputy chief, go over time. Last year the deputy chief made around $70,000- $80,000. Fontenot says eliminating the position won't be an easy fix to save money.

"They're going to save about $10,000, maybe $15,000 a year," he said. "That's not going to put a dent in what they're looking at here at the numbers."

KATC reached out to alderman Ernest Blanchard; he had no comment on the situation. However, he says the decision isn't finalized. Negotiations are in the works and will be discussed at next month's meeting.

Chief Fontenot says the next step for the council would be for them to repeal or amend the city ordinance that creates the deputy chief position. He also say they would have to work with the civil service board to see if it's allowed to cut the position.

In the meantime, Fontenot says getting rid of a position won't do any good for the city.

"At the same time that same council is saying 'Hey we got so much crime in our neighborhood. We need more police presence.' Well, that police presence doesn't get there for free. I have to pay them, and if I'm short handed I have to pay somebody overtime to come out and do that."

KATC reached out to Eunice Mayor Scott Fontenot, but have not received a response.