Shreveport Police Officers Association asks state lawmaker to withdraw proposal that could spell 12-hour shifts for officers on patrol

Jamya Lewis was rushed to UofL Hospital Wednesday where she died around 11:30 p.m., making her...
Jamya Lewis was rushed to UofL Hospital Wednesday where she died around 11:30 p.m., making her death the 149th homicide of the year.(Unsplash)
Updated: Apr. 12, 2021 at 5:18 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Could a police shortage in Shreveport lead to longer shifts for the men and women in blue at the Shreveport Police Department?

Twelve-hour shifts might be the future for patrol officers working Shreveport’s streets. Right now, SPD staffing is nearly 20% short, according to Police Chief Ben Raymond, meaning his department is down 100 officers. It’s a discouraging figure considering the historic rise in homicides Shreveport faces.

In an effort to combat the officer drain, a proposal is circulating this legislative session in Baton Rouge. House Bill 121, put forward by District 5 state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, would allow SPD to split its patrol division into two platoons, giving the police chief the option of moving patrol shifts to 12-hour workdays. The idea behind the proposal is to help fill holes in shifts created by the officer shortage and potentially cut down on increasing overtime costs, according to police sources.

A statement given to KSLA News 12 by SPD explains that Raymond requested the introduction of HB 121 this legislative session, with the police chief saying, “Many of our officers work extra jobs and shifts; working 16-hour shifts is no longer uncommon due to our current crisis. The passage of HB 121 in no way dictates we will move to 12-hour shifts. However, being nearly 20% below full-staffing requires thinking outside of the box.”

The proposal has been met with immediate pushback from the Shreveport Police Officers Association (SPOA). Dr. Michael Carter, SPOA president, penned the letter below to Seabaugh, asking the state representative to pull HB 121.

“Further burden of those few remaining in the Patrol Bureau cannot last much longer without additional staffing,” the letter states, in part. “Working these men and women longer and harder will not provide a greater service to Shreveport. It will take staffing reallocation.”

Currently, Carter says, officers on patrol work eight shifts. How 12-hour shifts would work exactly in a 40-hour week is unknown. It could be that officers would work four 12-hour shifts one week, followed by three 12-hour shifts the next.

SPD says it will be able to provide further details if HB 121 passes.

Meanwhile, as of the publication of this report, Seabaugh has not returned KSLA News 12’s messages seeking an interview. We will have more as this story develops in the days to come.

Below is the text of House Bill 121 followed by the legislative digest entry about the proposal:

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