Not many municipalities get the unique chance to build their police department from the ground up, and even fewer with a population of 30,000.
That’s part of the reason why New Iberia has been in the headlines since October of last year, when area residents went to the ballot and made the decision to impose a half-cent sales tax that would go toward giving the city a police department.
Since 2004, New Iberia has been under contract with the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services. There were several reasons at the time, but the decision ultimately came down to the New Iberia City Council, the majority of whom thought it would be a cost saving measure.
Whether it was a good decision or not remains controversial, and during election time last year there were arguments laid out for and against reinstating a city PD.
Mayor Freddie DeCourt, who championed a new police department in his first year in office, said multiple times that the effort would allow city government to get back into the business of crime and have a say in who gets hired and fired.
In December, DeCourt hired former Jennings Chief Todd D’Albor as New Iberia’s first police chief in more than a decade.
Like DeCourt, D’Albor is optimistic at what the New Iberia Police Department will do for the city. On his first day on the job, he set forward a lofty goal of putting New Iberia on the map as one of the safest cities in the state.
The city will have to wait and see whether that proves true. The NIPD is set to go live on July 1, the same time when New Iberia’s contract with the sheriff’s office is set to expire.
City government has been in the process of purchasing vehicles, badges and all of the various equipment associated with having a police department, thanks to the new tax and existing revenue that previously went to the IPSO.
It’s not just local residents that are watching the progress. Other police departments around the state have donated or sold equipment to the new department in the short time that D’Albor has been hired.
DeCourt said in March that the cooperation has been “awesome.” How it benefits the residents of New Iberia is a story many are anxious to see.