SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — After a years-long effort to raise pay for Shreveport Police officers, the debate has migrated from the city council chambers to three electronic billboards across town.
One is located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Youree Drive and East Bert Kouns. The other two can be found on Ellerbe Road.
They are all directed at city councilman Grayson Boucher, and no doubt his constituents in southeast Shreveport.
One statement on the billboard begins: “How many citizens have to be shot or killed...”
While another message starts off: “How many police officers have to resign...”
The Shreveport Police Officers Association paid for the billboards after councilman Boucher recently agreed on a compromise 4 percent pay hike for officers, instead of the 17 percent proposed by association president Michael Carter.
“If you say that you’re going to support it and then you don’t, you do a 180, then you should expect consequences. You should expect the SPOA to stand up for themselves and say, 'this is not what you promised," said Carter.
Councilman Boucher says he was genuinely surprised and ‘taken aback’ by such a public way to air a grievance. He also says there was never any promise for a 17 percent pay hike.
“It is a little bit of a slap in the face. But, I take it with a grain of salt. And I’m going to continue to do what I do on a daily basis to make Shreveport a better place to live," said Boucher.
Ultimately, Sgt. Carter says he considers Councilman Boucher a friend and just hopes these billboards in some way convince him to change his mind. He says a 4 percent pay hike just won’t do it to keep officers on the force.
“They’re literally quitting by the week. They’re literally walking out the door. We’re in forced overtime. They’re being forced to work double shifts, alright. You can’t have a life like that. You can’t have a family life like that," said Carter.
Carter says there are now 89 unfilled police officer positions in the Shreveport Police Department.
The thinking goes a 4 percent pay hike for now and then another in the spring, possibly paid by a quarter-cent sales tax.
However, Carter cautioned that there’s actually little chance to make that plan possible.
“You could ask a legislator to support the bill because we’re capped on taxes. They would have to take it to Baton Rouge, get it through the house, the senate and the governor, get it back up here and the very soonest on November ballot of 2021. Jeff, we cannot wait 13 months," said Carter.