Discussions of possible return of Lafayette Park police force are underway

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)– During the previous administration, the Lafayette Park police force was eliminated but that may change. Lafayette Mayor-president Monique Boulet said a discussion will occur if the budget process allows for a change.

Retired Park Police Chief Oscar Benoit has expressed his confidence in the administration’s commitment to doing what’s best. Benoit emphasized that policing over 20 parks is a full-time job; policing included overseeing indoor and outdoor pools, golf courts, and soccer fields. They also had to cover recreational and activity centers. The responsibilities focused on ensuring safety.

Lafayette city and parish parks are not immune to crime and dangerous incidents. Benoit explains many parks are situated next to neighborhoods. “If a problem happened in the neighborhood, we would take care of it and that it wouldn’t flow over into the park. The same that if we had a problem in the park, we didn’t want to cause problems sending that into the neighborhood,” Benoit said.

The park officers were commissioned officers who attended the police academy and received in-service training with the LPD.

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“If a city police officer stopped a vehicle and needed a little help,” Benoit said. “If the park police officer was two blocks away, he would go back that officer up and make sure everything was okay.  That would relieve another unit from coming. That unit the city police had would be able to stay and make patrols.”

“If lights were out all over in the park, we would in the morning we would make the maintenance people would get on it and make sure it gets corrected. If gates were unlocked, we would make sure they had locks,” Benoit said.

Benoit believes this administration will try to do what’s best for the citizens of Lafayette.

“I think this administration will make a plan to dot their eyes and cross their tees before they do anything. I have that much confidence,” the former chief said. 

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