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Shreveport City Council talks about police pay raise, body cameras

The Fire Department also asked for a pay increase for its employees
Shreveport police Chief Ben Raymond and fire chief Scott Wolverton listen to feedback from the...
Shreveport police Chief Ben Raymond and fire chief Scott Wolverton listen to feedback from the Shreveport city council.(Destinee Patterson)
Updated: Aug. 11, 2020 at 10:40 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Between City Council members, law enforcement employees and people from the community, the topic of police pay raises kept creeping up throughout the Shreveport City Council meeting Tuesday.

District B Councilwoman LeVette Fuller introduced a resolution, saying the city needs to retain and recruit more police officers.

“Right now, what I’m offering is a proposal for raises,” said Fuller. “It would give that $4,000 increase from what we have now at the bottom end … but also allow for a 2% cost-of-living increase every year that the Fire Department already gets by statute.”

The proposal does not currently include the Fire Department.

More than 10 people from the Fire Department went to the meeting wearing SFD T-shirts. And about five fire trucks were parked outside for most of the four-hour meeting.

“We’re 50% of that service to the city,” Fire Chief Scott Wolverton said. “We want to continue doing that service. We also want to retain and attract firefighters to come work for the city of Shreveport. This is the way you do it, through pay increases.”

However, before the meeting, Fuller said she is more focused on the Police Department.

“The key of this right now, with all due respect to the Fire Department, is we are literally looking at the Police Department right now, me in particular, because we are scrutinizing everything that they do.”

While many City Council members agreed with the idea of giving raises to employees of the police and fire departments, they also expressed concerns about funding.

“This year, COVID-19 came to the community and wiped away many, many of the gains we made in the first year,” Mayor Adrian Perkins said. “So as you think about how we’re going to find the funds, I just wanted you all to keep that in mind.”

Fuller proposed the idea of using funds already in place for vacant positions in the police force.

“If we take 49 of those funded vacancies and shift them – or defund – it’s shifting that funding in order to spread it out across the entire department,” she told KSLA News 12.

One thing that did get funding Tuesday: body cameras.

In total, the Police Department accepted about $200,000 in donations specifically to buy body cameras.

“Body cameras have been a need for years,” Police Chief Ben Raymond said. “It’s been an unfunded need for several years. We wanted to get them for our officers; we just couldn’t afford it.”

Raymond said the plan is to buy 400 body cameras, enough to assign a body camera to every police officer on patrol.

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