Weighing the pros and cons of TED
With as many stories as the Jennings Daily News has reported regarding the Welsh Police Department’s (WPD) Traffic Enforcement Detail (TED) program, it’s time we give an opinion on the matter: Give TED a chance, but with restrictions.
The Welsh Board of Aldermen and the WPD have argued on the matter since 2006, both with good reason.
On one side, you have aldermen elected to represent the people and their money, and many times the public has launched serious complaints against the department. But the only real authority aldermen have over the WPD is in its budget. So when aldermen have received complaints about police using WPD units for personal errands or during their off time; patrols lacking in neighborhoods; police failing to respond to calls; or the chief having his men help him move his personal belongings during a shift, the only thing aldermen can do is ask, “Why?”
Though the TED program funds its operation, pay scale, and a small part of the town’s general fund, aldermen want to know why police should be able to reap such benefits – mainly in the form of $25 per hour TED shifts – when they are failing to do a job inside the actual town for pay they agreed to. On top of those concerns, in the past, some Welsh officers abused the program by abandoning TED shifts while on the clock or skipping regular shifts in favor of working TED.
Chaisson has acknowledged departmental issues from the past and said he and his team are working constantly to provide better protection to the town. But he believes part of the protection comes from deterring criminals passing through Welsh via Interstate 10, which is TED’s patrol zone. In truth, Chaisson’s idea is shared with law enforcement officials everywhere. Every day, drug dealers, traffic offenders, illegal immigrants and those with outstanding warrants drive through our communities on that major roadway. We have no way of knowing how those people’s actions could affect us in Jeff Davis Parish. It’s wiser to take them off the road here than give them the chance to reach their destination.
With the money collected from TED fines and seizures, the WPD has funded the program without asking for more money from taxpayers, and used some of those funds for much-needed equipment purchases and upgrades. It has also allowed officers to make extra money, once again without further taxing citizens. It’s true that police officers know the pay they are facing when they take a job: but how many of us would actually be willing to do the work they do for the small pay they make? With all the training, duties and hours required of police, and the safety and order they provide for our communities, should we really expect these people to work overtime hours for a mere $12? That’s the same overtime pay some fast food employees receive. Cops can find another job for better pay; but who would take their place? Would we rather give low pay to inexperienced officers or give higher pay to dedicated, professional officers?
But the WPD must make the inner Town of Welsh its first priority before putting too much energy into TED. TED will only survive with the support of the people, and if the people in the town are not satisfied, they will certainly not care about action on the interstate, whether it benefits police or not. As the elected chief, it is Chaisson’s responsibility to ensure the people are taken care of first, and that does mean weeding out officers who put forth minimal effort. If they are not willing to fulfill their regular patrol duties, the question isn’t whether they should be allowed to work TED, but how soon they should be terminated.
It’s also important that aldermen overview the program frequently, as they are planning to do starting next month. Between input from the public and actual proof of the work TED does, the aldermen can determine if the program benefits the town, or causes more problems than it addresses.
The WPD deserves a chance to prove TED’s worth, because the program could be an asset to the town and its people. But without dedication to the town first, TED will fail regardless of the crimes it deters or money it brings in
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