Nationwide police shortage felt by Acadiana's agencies

State Police Troop I HQ
Lafayette Police Department
Posted at 8:38 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 21:38:04-05

Acadiana's police departments are feeling the effects of a national staffing shortage — but officials say it's not just the force that is troubled by this issue.

"It's the medical profession, it's the teachers," says Thomas Gossen, public information officer for State Police Troop I. "Normally on a full shift back even back just a few years ago, there was about 12 troopers per shift and we're about half that right now. When you're talking about 8 parishes, so you're talking about less than one trooper per parish."

Over in Crowley, police chief Jimmy Broussard says his department is experiencing something similar. He tells KATC that this line of business has always had a quick turnover, but in the past couple of years it's taken a turn for the worst.

"We're 5 short and there's usually about 5 people on a shift, so saying we're at least five short is saying we're 5 short plus an extra," Broussard says. "It's a pair of hands, a pair of eyes, something that could deter crime."

At Lafayette Police Department, officers say the shortage touches their department as well. LPD currently has 29 openings as current staff, which normally totals out to be 302 people, is now at 273. The reason, they say, stems from lack of interest in the profession — which they believe starts in the schools.

"We have officers that are on calls and we will have calls holding," says LPD public information officer Sergeant Robin Green. "We need — with additional personnel, we will have less calls holding, and like I said, it'll increase our response time and it will just, like I said, increase overall the protection over the city."

KATC also spoke with a member of LPD's Explorer Program — 17-year-old Hailey DeGuelle. She says she's noticed a shift amongst many of her school peers as well.

"They kind of overlook law enforcement and public service because they don't think it pays enough or they don't think it gets the respect it needs," DeGuelle says. "So they go into those fields that are highly respected and pay highly."

Many agencies across Acadiana say while they would like to resolve this issue as soon as possible with recruiting fairs — some agencies don't currently have the budget. In reality, however, most say they hope to have substantial staffing improvements no later than the start of next year.

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