Sorrento council to debate value of new police insurance vs. outsourcing

Photo provided by staff
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 8:00am

Sorrento is learning just how much it will cost to keep police officers on its streets.

A committee formed by the town council Wednesday night will meet today to discuss the merits of the only quote it has received so far to insure its police department.

The committee consists of Mayor Mike Lambert, council members Randy Anny and Marvin Martin, assistant police chief Ricky Smith, and the town's attorney and CPA.

The council held a special meeting Tuesday night to talk about getting a new insurance policy for the police department. Its old policy was canceled by Risk Management in October after, among other things, it was learned that an officer had been caught speeding hundreds of times.

Sorrento asked for quotes from seven companies. Three have already rejected the town's request, while three others are expected to respond soon. Only one quote came back, at a price of $67,692.

Anny tried to rationalize the price as a good thing for the town because it would not trigger a budget amendment. He added that the town could afford it because a police position was eliminated from the current budget.

"If it's around $70,000 or under, you won't have a problem," he said. "It will not hurt us in any way. Actually, it would be money going back to the police department that they actually gave up in the first place."

If Sorrento chooses not to pay for the new, more expensive insurance policy, it will have to sign an agreement with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Jeff Wiley sent a packet with terms to the mayor shortly before Wednesday's meeting. It would provide one officer and one detective through the end of 2013 at a cost of $37,521.

"Put your pencil to the paper: it ain't cost-effective to deal with them," one man told the council. "You need to keep what we got here. Y'all been elected to represent the people; the people want the chief here, along with the P.D."

If Sorrento goes that route and chooses to extend its contract with the Sheriff's Office into 2014, the price would go up. Sheriff Wiley said he would expect Sorrento to pay benefits and cover the cost of vehicles for any officers who patrol the town.

One deputy has patrolled Sorrento at the Sheriff's expense since last Friday. One Sorrento police officer resigned because of the uncertainty facing the department, and Smith said another is on the verge of taking a different job.

Sorrento must make a decision by Tuesday, when its old insurance policy is set to end.


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