Judge sides with Shreveport police officers in dispute over COVID-19 pandemic pay

At issue was whether City Hall was officially closed March 19-May 15, 2020
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 5:27 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2023 at 7:12 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Shreveport police officers who worked when the COVID-19 pandemic led to emergency declarations and the closure of City Hall for a couple months are entitled to time off under departmental policy.

That’s the ruling a Caddo District Court judge rendered Thursday, April 6 on the lawsuit brought by Cpl. Bobby Entrekin and others against the City of Shreveport.

“The simple fact is this: The police officers in question reported for duty at a time when the rest of the world had effectively shut down,” Judge Michael A. Pitman wrote.

And later he added: “To deny these dedicated police officers the compensation they have rightfully earned under SPD GO 301.02 is unconscionable and inequitable.”

SPD GO 301.02 establishes a procedure for employees who report for duty on days when City Hall is officially closed due to severe inclement weather “or some other emergency” as declared by the mayor.

“When City Hall is officially closed due to an emergency declared by the mayor, those employees reporting for duty shall be compensated with time off at a later date,” the policy states.

At issue in the lawsuit was:

  • whether City Hall was officially closed March 19-May 15, 2020;
  • whether City Hall was officially closed based upon the instruction of “the mayor, chief administrative officer or designee”; and,
  • whether City Hall officially was closed “due to an emergency condition.”

The judge found all three situations to be true and ordered that a formal judgment consistent with his opinion be submitted within 15 days.

Pamela Breedlove, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said the ruling means officers have three possible outcomes — monetary compensation to officers who worked in person, time off for hours worked up to 240 hours or both monetary compensation and time off.

And while this is a win, she said, officers may not see the reward anytime soon.

Breedlove said the opposing counsel already has decided to appeal.

Michael Carter, president of the Shreveport Police Officers Association, issued the following statement in response to the ruling:

“The Shreveport Police Officers Association would like to extend our appreciation to the Court in reference to the April 6, 2023 ruling. During the worst Pandemic of modern times, members of the Shreveport Police Department served the Citizens of Shreveport without hesitation. We responded to calls for service when the average American was not required to attend work or school. We are committed Law Enforcement Officers that did exactly what our community expected us to do during an emergency crisis. We did so with the expectation that the Shreveport Police Department would honor their policy in reference to the emergency conditions. When SPD refused to comply with their own policy, SPOA was forced to file a lawsuit in the 1st Judicial District Court. We are humbled by the tremendous respect shown towards Law Enforcement in the text of the Courts ruling. That respect is mutual and eternal.”

Below is the lawsuit and ruling: