Aldermen should back chief’s raise

Welsh Police Department (WPD) Chief Marcus Crochet did not receive a pay raise this week. We now know that under the Lawrason Act, Mayor Carolyn Louviere was not permitted to cast her tie-breaking vote in the matter.

While quite the snafu, the bigger issue is that there should not have been a tie in the first place. The vote was deadlocked because two aldermen voted for the raise, two voted against, and one chose to abstain. Every alderman should have voted on this important issue.

Is $15,000 a big pay jump in one year for an elected official in a small town? Yes. However, is $40,000 adequate pay for the leader of a law enforcement agency in a town sandwiched between two major thoroughfares?

When Crochet took office in 2013, he inherited a badly damaged department. At the time, WPD was known for corrupt employees, vicious infighting and mishandled and tainted cases. In four years, the department has rebuilt its public image and its relationship with the community.

Like every town, Welsh still sees crime and always will, but it is no longer commonplace for murders, robberies and other violent crimes to occur on a weekly basis. That alone is worth more than $40,000.

In fact, when you put that number next to what other Welsh department heads are paid, you have to ask why one of the most important positions in the town is paid the least. According to information shared during a budget meeting earlier this year, one Welsh maintenance supervisor earns $55,000 annually while another receives just under $50,000. The town clerk earns $45,000 each year and a lineman is paid over $43,000. If pay reflects the importance of a position, what the current police chief earns makes a bold statement.

By all accounts, it seems the majority of voters want their chief to have better pay. So why did the majority of the board not vote on behalf of the people it represents?

According to the Welsh mayor, aldermen will be tasked with voting on the raise again in August. Residents are not expecting aldermen to vote for what each official personally thinks is best. They are not asking for aldermen to abstain from voting in hopes of avoiding the consequences of a yes or no vote. Residents are asking aldermen to do what they were elected to, which is represent the concerns and desires of the people for the betterment of the town they serve.

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Posted by on Jul 14 2017. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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