INTERVIEW: Domonique Benn speaks with SPD’s Substitute Chief Wayne Smith
“I expect that from 42 years of service I’ve seen our city at its worst, and I’ve seen it at its best. There’s no doubt in my mind that there are brighter days ahead.”
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - KSLA News 12′s Domonique Benn spoke with SPD’s Chief Wayne Smith on his first day as the substitute Chief of Police for the city of Shreveport.
Below is the full transcript from their sitdown.
Domonique Benn: So Chief, this is a quick transition as your first full day as substitute police chief at the department. What does the first day look like?
Chief Wayne Smith: It’s going to be really, really busy. (I) have a staff meeting scheduled, my top commanders, bright and early this morning. A couple of hours away and we’re going to get off to a good start. We have a lot of things to talk about, a lot of planning to do. So I’m really, really looking forward to hitting the ground running.
DB: Can you let us in on some of the things what you’ll be talking about with those top commanders?
WS: Well, when administration and I met, I had some really creative ideas. I think that we can begin to implement that I really believe that’s going to make some difference in the situation that we find ourselves in — both with crime and police morale.
DB: So 42 years at you’ve been at this at SPD.
WS: Yes, a long time.
DB: Right, so let’s talk about the rise in crime. Have you ever seen the rise in crime this much or homicides this much? I know in the 90s it was very, very difficult back then — but we made it out of the 90s. How do we get out of this part of the crime situation?
WS: We’re going to have to strategically target some of the causes of the crime and, y’know the interesting thing about police work, once you get things going your way, you can’t back off and relax and think it’s going to stay that way forever. You have to continue to change with time, implement new strategies both out in the community and keeping your people motivated to work harder and harder and harder.
DB: That was also one thing Mayor Perkins cited as falling morale. How do you get morale back up in the department?
WS: Well, a lot of things are going to be done in the coming months to help that. One of the things is stronger recruitment, a stronger emphasis on recruiting. We got to get those officers more help. All of them — all of us are having to work a lot extra, double shifts. Get them some help so they can have a little bit more free time.
DB: Right. So you are 100 officers down. I think to be exact, you said 116.
DB: How do you do more with less?
WS: Everyone has to work harder without a doubt. We care a lot about our community and whether we’re 100 down or 200 down - we’re going to work harder to make a difference. We’re going to do whatever it is that’s possible that our city doesn’t go lacking in our law enforcement coverage.
DB: Y’know, a few years ago, three years ago, there was a special response team that’s no longer, a part of SPD. It was disbanded. Is there any chance we could bring that back? Because I think that when responding to (a) crime you have to be proactive a lot of times.
WS: Absolutely, I’m so glad you brought that up. We’re looking at some innovative ways to do that with the current staffing that we have. In times you have to readjust the resources that you have to make sure that you’re able to cover all your areas. So we’re looking at innovative ways to make that happen - happen as it was, as you knew it and to continue.
DB: Listen, I’ve been here through three police chiefs, you being the fourth as a substitute police chief. Along with the job comes criticism. Are you up for it?
WS: I am. I expect that from 42 years of service. I’ve seen our city at its worst, and I’ve seen it at its best. There’s no doubt in my mind that there are brighter days ahead. Everything that I attempt to do or do is not going to be popular, I’m well aware of that. I pray and hope I have the support of the administration and the community because I’m working for the benefit of this city.
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