Jennings police chief says new citywide insurance policy could slow down police response

Jennings, LA (KPLC) – Having police on the road is a crucial part of safety, and being able to call them at a moment’s notice is what citizens have come to expect.

But police in Jennings worry a new insurance policy might slow that down from some officers.

Mayor Henry Guinn announced starting Aug. 1, city employees need to provide proof of personal auto insurance meeting certain minimums in order to have a take-home vehicle.

Guinn cites an increase in off-duty accidents as the reason for the change. In his notice, he referenced a four-car pileup involving an off-duty officer who was texting and driving.

Jennings Police Chief Danny Semmes said the policy means officers must meet those insurance standards to take home a patrol unit.

“It’s an advantage to the officer obviously not to have the wear and tear on his vehicle, gasoline costs aren’t there, and it’s an advantage to the city, to have these officers in these take home cars because at a moment’s notice, these officers can be called to come in for a critical incident, and that office can leave and what we call 10-8 immediately from his house with lights and sirens on, to the scene and respond rapidly. Where as now, officers will have to drive at the speed limit in a personal vehicle to the station, come to the station get their vehicle and gear, and then go to the scene. So there’s disadvantages to it as well,” Chief Semmes said.

Guinn says the policy is modeled after the New Orleans Police Department’s current policy.

“It’s obviously going to be an expense to them [the officers]. It will be an out-of-pocket expense for each officer, and for each officer it will be a little different. Some officers it amounts to hundreds of dollars a year, for some it’s not very much. It will be based on their driving records and the type of vehicle they own,” Semmes said.

The mandatory minimum coverage for automobile liability, bodily injury, and property damage liability is $50,000/$100,000/$50,000. Comprehensive and collision deductibles would be the employee’s responsibility.

“I just want the public to know we’re going to do our absolute best to serve them and protect them with the officers we have on staff and the officers are available to respond to calls,” Chief Semmes said.

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