ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) – While crime is increasing in Alexandria, there are still concerns over the shortage of police officers patrolling the city. However, this isn’t a new issue but one that has continued to put a strain on the Alexandria Police Department.
Back in 2019, KALB looked into a dwindling number of officers at the police department. Bruce Fairbanks, a retired Alexandria Police Department captain, said during the story that support units at the department were seeing cuts.
“We used to have eight motorcycles patrolling, we’re down to three,” said Fairbanks in 2019. “We used to have a DWI officer working every shift at night, which was four, we’re down to two. When I was uniform division commander, we averaged about 14 officers per shift. Those are dwindling.”
Nearly two years later, KALB has found that numbers in multiple areas of APD are still seeing the same issues. This includes motorcycle officers, DWI officers, the K9 division and the narcotics division.
According to multiple people who used to work at the department, there used to be six motorcycle officers at APD, but, according to assignment logs that KALB obtained from May of this year, there are now only two. A similar trend is seen with both DWI officers and K9 units. Previously, there’s been four in each unit, but now, both are down to two. The department’s narcotics division has also seen a dramatic decline. At one point, APD had a dozen officers specifically working on drug cases. Now, there’s only one officer assigned to the narcotics division.
It’s not only support units that are struggling to keep up. There are four shifts at APD that cover a total of nine zones throughout Alexandria. With fewer officers, those zones are harder to monitor. Right now, there are 11 patrol officers assigned to each shift when there used to be 14 per shift.
This means that in some instances, especially when officers take a vacation, zones are left uncovered or officers from other units are pulled to patrol.
According to APD daily assignment sheets obtained by KALB, in May of this year, both DWI officers and officers with the K9 unit were used for patrol which took them from a support unit that already has fewer officers. APD is also having to pull detectives to do patrol.
In a public records request from KALB, the city confirmed that in June and July, four different detectives were assigned to patrol for two weeks at a time.
To help address these shortages, Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall and the police union agreed on a new contract last month that will give police positions a 1.75 percent pay increase every year. The department has also recruited 13 candidates for the current police academy so time will tell if these efforts will help fill the vacancies.