SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — An advisory `group has identified a few possible reasons for mistrust between Shreveport citizens and the city’s police.
The Police and Community Relations Work Group reports that, over the past seven to eight months, it primarily has been examining the effectiveness of discipline the police chief has imposed within the Police Department.
The work group is part of the Commission on Race and Diversity that Mayor Adrian Perkins put to work in June. Among other things, he tasked commissioners with addressing the apparent lack of trust between members of the Black community and police.
Since its formation, the race commission has formed seven work groups with each one tasked with tackling a particular subject. Among them is the Police and Community Relations Work Group.
Working on the premise that any lack of accountability gives rise to mistrust, that work group is investigating whether police officers are held accountable for misconduct and, if so, how they are held accountable.
There are three ways:
- The police chief can discipline an officer,
- A prosecutor can file criminal charges against an officer who is suspected of misconduct, and,
- A victim of police misconduct can file a civil lawsuit against the officer(s).
This particular work group is exploring the effectiveness of all three of these. But it reports that it primarily has been examining the effectiveness of discipline the police chief has imposed within the Police Department.
And while the group’s members say they are not yet ready to make a final determination or recommendation to the race commission, they are concerned about the number of Fire Department and Police Department employees who serve on the nine-member Fire and Police Civil Service Board.
“We are concerned because of the appearance, at least, that regular police and fire employees have an outsized say in determining whether they are disciplined or not, an appearance that might reasonably give rise to mistrust,” the panel says in a report that commissioners presented Tuesday to City Council members.
The work group’s report says its members also are concerned:
- that the fire and police personnel who serve on the civil service board are elected by regular employees of their departments as opposed to being elected by citizens or appointed by someone, such as the mayor, who is elected, and,
- by the number of civil service board members that it takes to constitute a quorum in Shreveport as compared to other municipalities.
Below is the full report that the Commission on Race and Diversity presented to City Council members on Tuesday, Feb. 9. It includes further details about the Police and Community Relations Work Group’s findings: