At the last Shreveport City Council meeting numerous speakers addressed the Council concerning the unfortunate death of Anthony Childs.
Childs was fleeing from the Shreveport Police Department when he died from a gunshot wound. Caddo Coroner Dr. Todd Thomas ruled that the gunshot was self-inflicted.
Many citizens complained about the suicide determination of Thoma. None of them recognized that the Council has no jurisdiction over the coroner’s office.
Others complained that Caddo District Attorney James Stewart would not take any action on the incident. Again, no one acknowledged that Stewart does not report to the Council.
A common threat in all the comments was the need for a police review board. Child’s death and other actions of the Shreveport police were cited as justifications.
All these speakers overlooked the fact that Shreveport has a police review board. It is the Shreveport Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board, established by the state law.
The board is composed of 9 members. The Shreveport mayor appoints five citizens members of the board.
One member is selected in the Mayor’s total discretion. This person has a three year term.
The other four mayoral appointments are made from a list of nominees submitted by the Chancellors of Louisiana State University Shreveport and Southern University Shreveport. The mayor selects two members from each list for two year terms.
The Shreveport Fire Department and the Shreveport Police Department each elect two members for one year terms.
The board is authorized , either on its own motion or upon a written citizen petition, to investigate the actions/inaction of police and fire personnel. This authority includes the use of excessive force by Shreveport police.
Several citizens said they would continue to express their dissatisfaction with the Child’s death at future council meetings. This is, of course, their right as Shreveport residents.
A more productive course of action may be to file a complaint with the civil service board. And to request a board investigation.
Consultation with local state delegation on the state law could also be fruitful. A separate or modified citizen review board will require new legislation.