Shreveport citizens have stepped up their complaints to elected officials over their perceptions that Shreveport is becoming a less and less safe community. Mayor Tyler and her administrations say that they have a "plan" that is coming together, however the escalating shootings, homicides and burglaries tell a different story. And although different justifications for the increase in crime have been offered, one that has not been highlighted, but that can not be denied, is staffing at the Shreveport Police Department (SPD).
The Shreveport budget authorizes 553 officers; after recent firings by SPD Chief Crump the number on the payroll is 513. The SPD workforce includes 2 cadets, who are officers with less than one year’s experience that are not authorized to drive a SPD vehicle alone; the cadets are not counted as authorized policeman.
The SPD Academy currently has 24 recruits; 31 were hired but 7 are not completing the program. The City reports that the applicants who applied for the current academy were screened for their criminal backgrounds and were given the Civil Service tests; all that qualified were offered jobs.
The SPD workforce of available officers to be on the street is always reduced by officers on administrative leave and sick leave. The City reports that as of April 13, 2017, there were 9 officers on administrative leave and that the average per week is 3. The City also reported that 24 officers were on extended sick leave (which is more than 15 consecutive days) and that the average per week is 19.
Mike Carter, president of the Shreveport Police Officer’s Association, believes that the numbers provided by the Administration are generally "massaged" and that the SPD is operating 80 to 100 officers short each day. Carter cites vacations and extended court appearances, in addition to sick leave and administrative leave to justify his estimate. Carter also cites the loss of 73 officers from the force in the last 2 years due to retirements, resignations and terminations.
Carter states that the City’s refusal since 20013 to give SPD officers a pay raise is the primary reason that officers are leaving the force and that the number of applicants to become officers is low. The starting pay for a police officer in Shreveport is $33,000; after a year on the force an officer gets an additional $6000 per year as supplemental pay from the state.
Carter believes that SPD officers are paid $11,000 a year LESS than comparable cities in the region. He notes that the starting pay for police officers in Tyler Texas is over $53,000 and that the starting pay in Memphis Tennessee is $46000 plus. Even Lafayette and Marshall pay starting officers more than Shreveport according to Carter.
Mayor Tyler has stated that the City can not afford extra pay for SPD officers, as well as other city employees, citing big numbers needed to underwrite an across the board pay raise. Seemingly Tyler could look for incremental savings in many other areas of her budget, like the $100,000 sponsorship of the Independence Bowl, the additional pay that Tyler gave to SPD Chief Crump over that salary of his predecessor and the large administrative staff in her office, among other budget items. Bottom line Tyler has not made police pay a priority and Shreveport’s crime rate may be attributable, in part, to this reality. Tyler cannot blame her predecessor Cedric Glover, as she is prone to do, on many unresolved issues.