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Cottonwood Shores crime prevention district adopts new programs

Cottonwood Shores police vehicle

The Cottonwood Shores Crime Control and Prevention District approved new programs for the Cottonwood Shores Police Department during its July 7 meeting. File photo

Three new programs, including wellness checks for the elderly and disabled, were approved by the Cottonwood Shores Crime Control and Prevention District board during its meeting Thursday, July 7.

Additional programs include a commitment to around-the-clock patrols and a new employee retention plan based on law enforcement certifications.

The program for senior citizens, “Are You Okay?”, is a voluntary enrollment welfare check program.

Each day at a pre-arranged time, the system will automatically make a computerized phone call to participants. If the participant doesn’t answer after a preset number of calls, a Cottonwood Shores police officer will be dispatched to the person’s location. 

Chief Johnny Liendo told the board he wants to add disabled people to the program.

“We also have disabled people in the community,” he said. “I’d like to include them if they’d like to be a part of it. I don’t want to exclude them.”

The program will cost $3,500 to purchase the software, hard drive, and laptop.

The district board also approved the 24/7 Project, a commitment by the police department to provide around-the-clock coverage of the community. The department’s six officers will work staggered, 12-hour shifts to always have officers on duty, day and night. 

The department and the district hope this will deter criminals and make the city safer.

“When our police are out there 24/7, the deterrence is there,” said district board member Ray Whitis. “That means the objective will be met.”

The program will cost $91,000.

The final program approved by the board is aimed at keeping police department employees and centered on certification training. The city has budgeted up to $2,500 in bonus hourly pay for achieving different levels of certification throughout the police force. The city also will pay for certification fees.

“I’m a strong supporter of certification,” City Administrator J.C. Hughes said. “It’s good for our officers. It’s good for the city.”

Intermediate certifications will result in an increase of 25 cents per hourly wage. For advanced certifications, wages will be increased by 50 cents an hour. For master certifications, the police department will increase hourly wages by 75 cents an hour. For any additional certifications, the department will provide an additional 25 cents an hour. 

Different law enforcement certifications include courses regarding human trafficking, canine encounters, dealing with deaf and hard of hearing drivers, and others. Liendo said his officers must prove the certifications will help the police department before the city agrees to pay for the classes.

“If one of my guys tells me they want to take a class in whatever, I ask them how it will benefit (Cottonwood Shores),” Liendo said. “If they can’t give me a good answer, the city isn’t paying for those classes.”

Certification pay may not exceed $2,500 a year, per officer. The overall cost of the program will be $12,500. 

The board also allotted $8,500 for the police department to purchase body cameras and a new ticket printer.

The next Crime Control and Prevention District board meeting is at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, at 4111 Cottonwood Drive.

nathan@thepicayune.com