They all agree. Which is a good thing.
The “they” is Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins, Shreveport provisional police chief Ben Raymond, Shreveport Police Officer’s Association president Dr./Sgt. Michael Carter and the Shreveport City Council.
Body cameras, if use effectively, would greatly assist Shreveport police officers.
So…what’s the holdup?
Like all technology equipment, body cams (cameras) vary substantially in price. It all depends on how many bells and whistles come with the purchase. Think $500 to $2500, or more, for each.
The easiest way to fund say 200 body cameras is to find a big pot of gold.
After that, there are some viable options.
The first is to seek donations from Shreveport citizens and businesses. Maybe even ask the Caddo Commission to chip in some bucks. This author will happily sign over his tax return check of a thousand bucks.
The second is to find “fat” in the city budget than can be re-directed for this purpose.
One place to start is to look at fees paid by the city to private attorneys for legal services. In 2018, this amount was exceeded $1.1 million.
Like all government entities, the city needs substantial legal services to conduct business operations. This includes drafting of ordinances and contracts, assisting the various city boards, commissions and authorities, seeking recovery for city claims, and defending litigation filed against the city/city departments. And many other needed legal tasks and services.
The city attorney office is staffed by 4 full-time assistant city attorneys, plus the City Attorney. This office also has several part-time attorneys. This staffing is woefully inadequate to handle all the city’s legal work. Thus the need for outside private council to provide legal services on a contract basis.
Here are the payments to “outside’ counsel last year:
ABRAMS & LAFARGUE $368,397.10 EDWIN BYRD $281,802.50 THEORDORE CASTEN $ 25,592.00 JOEY GREENWALD $ 62,204.27 MARCUS EDWARDS $ 46,400.55 RON C. STAMPS $ 20,853.55 JENNIFER MCKAY $111,689.00 NICOLE BUCKLE $161,699.30 ALEX WASHINGTON $ 29,474.75 JOHN NICKELSON $ 13,800.00 WINCHELL & JOSEPH $ 44,763.91 TOTAL $1,166,676.93
The city could probably save substantial dollars by hiring more in-house counsel. If the salary was market price, these slots could be very attractive.
Outside council bill the city on an hourly basis. This means no fees earned while on vacation, taking care of personal medical needs or those of family members, as well as various profession matters including attending required continuing legal education. Outside council must pay for health insurance and fund retirement plans.
The city’s benefits—paid vacation, paid holidays, sick days, health insurance and retirement plan contributions— certainly add to a guaranteed salary.
A full time assistant city attorney means just that—that all the labors of the attorney are for the benefit of the city. Plus the City Attorney can prioritize the labors of in-house counsel.
This is not ‘lets kill all the lawyers” suggestion. It is however a way to evaluate government efficiency in operations and expenses.
Just an idea. Let’s not shoot the messenger.