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Chief says PAPD officer shortage won't impact safety at Mardi Gras

Port Arthur is preparing for the start of the Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas this Thursday, and it could be a more challenging year because the Police Department has a shortage of officers.

Angel San Juan reports, the city's population will grow by thousands this weekend and streets now empty will be packed.

Police officers will also fill the streets, according to Chief Patrick Melvin, who says just because his department has vacancies, doesn't mean protection of citizens will suffer.

"One of my best weekends of the year," said Josh Stevens.

Stevens owns the Speak Easy Lounge on Proctor Street. Its location inside the Mardi Gras gate makes it a hot spot.

"We do a very good crowd for Mardi Gras," said Stevens. "We set up outside with sales of beer and Hurricanes and Long Island Iced Tea."

Stevens says he runs a tight ship. Club rules are at the entrance and it helps that the Port Arthur Police station is just around the corner.

"If i have to call them, they come real quick. Thank God I don't have to call them too often. I feel very safe downtown," said Stevens.

It's a message Police Chief Patrick Melvin wants people to hear, especially since his department still has a manpower shortage of 10 officers.

"Mardi Gras, we seek out officers from other departments, and that's been going good, too," said Chief Melvin. "So, we're going to be totally staffed when Mardi Gras begins on the 8th."

Chief Melvin credits his force of 113 sworn officers for stepping up and not letting the shortage threaten public safety.

"The message to the public is we have some awesome officers here in the City of Port Arthur, and they've been stepping up and been working," said Chief Melvin. "Some of them working on one of their off-days per week, so the shifts are not going understaffed or non-staffed at all. We have all the shifts being filled and the citizens of our city and visitors to our community have nothing to worry about. It's safe and secure here in Port Arthur."

Chief Melvin is also encouraging those interested in law enforcement careers to apply with the city to become a Port Arthur police officer.

The next Civil Service Exam will be in April.

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