Ditching the dead: KSLA report prompts new Caddo accountability protocol

Ditching the dead: KSLA report prompts new Caddo accountability protocol
Ashley Cage's Facebook post about her witnessing solid waste workers ditching a deceased dog
Ashley Cage's Facebook post about her witnessing solid waste workers ditching a deceased dog

CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A KSLA News 12 investigation reveals even more accusations of Caddo Parish solid waste workers ditching responsibility and dead animals while on the clock.

"When this happened to me three months ago, I had no idea it turned out to be a major problem like this," says Mark Johnson who lives off Barron Road, south of Shreveport in Caddo Parish.

"It kind of sickened me," added Johnson after seeing the initial KSLA investigation on November 8, when parish resident Ashley Cage claimed she witnessed solid waste workers throw a deceased dog into a ditch off Flournoy Lucas Road instead of delivering the carcass to the Woolworth Landfill as required.

"There had been a big size dog hit right out here," said Johnson, who contacted KSLA News 12's Doug Warner after the November 8 report. Johnson says that report reminded him of what he witnessed back in July.

He says he figured the truck had responded to his call about the dead dog which had been lying in the westbound lane of Barron Road for 3 days. However, he says he was left shocked just moments after the truck pulled away.

"I slowed down where the animal had been laying and I saw they had pulled it off the road into the ditch by a log over there," said Johnson.

He says he called solid waste and made a report that the workers had simply thrown the deceased animal down into the ditch instead of taking it to the landfill.

"They know they're in the wrong," said Cage.

After Cage and Johnson both recounted similar instances of Caddo Parish workers ditching dead animals, KSLA News 12 submitted a public records request to the Caddo Parish Public Works/Solid Waste department, asking for any documentation related to deceased animal pickups and if the employees involved in the incident earlier this month on Flournoy Lucas Road had been reprimanded.

The Caddo Parish Public Information Officer Krystle Grindley responded by email, stating that any information about employees could not be released, citing employee privacy.

As for records of accountability that would show dispatched workers successfully picked up and delivered deceased animals and solid waste to the landfill as required, Grindley wrote, "Prior to this incident, there has been no written accountability protocol,"  for the solid waste department which is operating on a budget close to $3 million to pay for salaries and equipment.

Grindley's email went on to read, "The Department's new procedure includes logging of each call. The department started implementation of a new electronic work order system that will allow these types of calls to be logged."

KSLA News 12 requested a copy of the solid waste department's new written protocol but has yet to receive a copy.

"I hate to put blame and make people look bad, but they kind of made themselves look bad doing what they did," said Johnson.

Grindley also states none of the public works vehicles are equipped with GPS.

For comparison, Bossier Parish Police Juror President Bill Altimus says all of their parish highway department trucks are equipped with GPS monitoring. He says this allows for the parish to keep track of employees and vehicles, at all times.

He also says they use a ticketing system anytime employees are dispatched to pick up solid waste to verify they successfully reach the landfill or other destinations.

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