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Central considering police department expansion

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CENTRAL - Central city leaders will consider adding around $57,000 to the city's police department budget Tuesday.

The ordinance would give the department enough money to hire an assistant police chief and fund the move to a larger suite in the same building. These are more potential changes for the police department to go along with the recent renovation of police cars into a two-tone style for more visibility on the streets.

Councilman Shane Evans says crime in Central has gone up, especially home and car burglaries. Evans says call volume from Central to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office has increased 33 percent in the past few years. He feels it's time for Central's police department to expand along with the growing city.

"Our first job as elected officials is to provide for public safety and infrastructure for our citizens, and we have to do it in the most direct fashion possible. We've got tax dollars that we can use to return services to our citizens and that's what this effort is for," he said.

Newly elected Central Police Chief James Salsbury campaigned on an expanded police department. Now he says he will try to accomplish that while in office.

"I want to have this department ready to go should we have to take on more of our own duties," he said. "You can't just sit by and do nothing. You know we need to do something, so I'm trying to make a move forward to better protect the citizens of this city. I mean that's what my job is."

Salsbury says the increased office space would be an improvement from the current one-room suite the department works from now. The new suite would offer rooms to do interviews and a place for refuge. Salsbury says an assistant chief would be able to give him time to go out in public to see what's going on in Central.

"The assistant chief position, I believe, would allow both the chief and that assistant chief to spend a little more time on the street, because they can share some of the administrative duties and return the tax dollars that the citizens pay to them in the form of more visible patrols, which is what we're after. We want to see those cars on the street," said Evans.

Central will hold a council meeting Tuesday, July 22 at 7 p.m. in the Central High School auditorium to discuss the ordinance.



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