SHREVEPORT, LA KSLA) - Fifty recruits at the Shreveport Police Department have a hard several weeks ahead. "You got to really want it," warns Recruiter, Sgt. Isiah Jackson. They'll be rigorously tested physically, and mentally for sixteen weeks. A class instructor tells the recruits that on the 12th week, they'll be given a post fire arms test "We spend a lot of times on training these weapons be it a shot gun, a side arm or a tazer," says Police Academy Director, Lt. Michael Tong.
The full classroom is a welcome site for the administration, who has been trying to fight an officer shortage. "This is the largest class ever, I think the one closest to this one was right at forty. While this is the largest class to date, out of those fifty recruits, only 18 will be going to the Shreveport Police Department. Others will be going to other outlying parishes and other cities, leaving SPD a little short. "This by no means is what our goal was, our goal was to completely staff the SPD this time around. But recruiters estimate SPD is about fifteen positions shy of a full staff. "We are actually having a good chance to fill that with no problem, we have scheduled two civil service tests coming up for that class that starts in February, says Jackson. And if enough people meet the August 29th deadline for the civil service exams, by the fall, SPD could be up to a full force.
City leaders and Police Union President Michael Carter have said recruiting police officers is not the problem, retaining them however is a big challenge, they say because the officers are not paid enough. A police pay raise is being considered by Shreveport city council.