SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The success Shreveport's new police chief, who officially was sworn into office Wednesday, might depend in part on having enough manpower to do the job.
But there's a big debate about the severity of the department's officer shortage.
As Alan Crump addressed the media Monday - after a weekend of deadly violence, the police chief also wanted to dispel a common misconception.
"I hear it constantly communicated that our agency is drastically low in manpower. That is not true."
His statement did not sit well with Sgt. Michael Carter, the police union president. "It's very, very condescending to have someone say we're not short. They're working very hard to cover this shortage. We need everybody to be honest and be realistic about it."
In fact, Carter said, the latest glaring example of critical officer understaffing happened Monday. "At the time of this press conference the other day there were people being hired back to cover minimal staffing on evening shift. And that's the truth of the matter."
The Police Department has 35 police officer positions it's trying to fill and hopes to have a full academy class in September, Crump said.
While being questioned by media representatives, the police chief also confirmed: "We have allocated strength of 580 officers."
With staffing currently at 519 officers and a maximum of 580, the difference comes to 61 officers short.
But Crump said that math is wrong. "We are not 100. We are not 80. We are 35 people down."
Some of those other officer positions have gone unfilled for so long that the money to pay for them has been diverted to other needs, Carter said, so they're not even counted any longer as openings.
Retirements, firings, resignations and sick leave also lower the number of officers on the force at any given time.
"The lower we get on manpower, the harder we work, the more calls we answer with fewer people," Carter said. "And that speaks a lot to our members.
"But they're wearing out, and that's why you see a lot of these resignations and people going to other agencies."