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

Jennings, LA (KPLC) – Having police on the road is a crucial part of safety, and being able to call them at any time is what citizens expect.

But Jennings Police fear a new insurance policy could slow that down from some officers.

Mayor Henry Guinn announced that starting August 1, city employees must provide proof of personal auto insurance that meets certain minimums in order to have a vehicle to take home.

Guinn cites an increase in out-of-service accidents as the reason for the change. In his notice, he referenced a four-car pile-up 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 bring home a patrol unit.

“It’s obviously an advantage for the agent not to have the wear and tear on his vehicle, the gas costs are not there, and it’s an advantage for the city, to have these agents in these cars take away because at any time these officers can be called in to respond to a critical incident, and this office can leave and what we call 10-8 immediately from their house with the lights and sirens on, on the scene and react quickly. Where, as now, officers will have to drive at the speed limit in a personal vehicle to the station, come to the station to pick up their vehicle and equipment, and then drive to the scene. So there is also inconvenience,” said Chief Semmes.

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

“It’s obviously going to be an expense for them [the officers]. It will be a personal expense for each officer, and for each officer it will be a little different. For some agents, that’s hundreds of dollars a year, for others it’s not 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. Full and collision deductibles would be the responsibility of the employee.

“I just want the public to know that we are going to do our best to serve 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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Justin D. O'Neill