Two candidates face off for powerful law enforcement job in Caddo Parish

John Nickleson and Henry Whitehorn face off in a runoff.
Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 9:00 AM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - It is the final stretch of the campaign. Two candidates are vying for one of the most powerful law enforcement jobs in the ArkLaTex, Caddo Parish Sheriff.

Republican John Nickelson got the most votes in the October primary with 45 percent, and Democrat Henry Whitehorn followed with 35 percent.

The two are now making their case on why they should get the job. Both candidates sat down with KSLA News 12 to make their case. One of the biggest issues in the parish is crime.

“The thing we have got to do in this community involves all stakeholders coming together,” said Nickelson. “Make sure that we investigate, prosecute and appropriately punish violent crime.”

“We can form task forces, additional task forces to really work on getting these violent gang members off our streets and the weapons,” said Whitehorn.

Nickelson made the runoff despite having no law enforcement experience. He said his time as a lawyer and Shreveport City Councilman is enough for the job. Along with an endorsement from the current longtime sheriff, Steve Prator.

“It’s important to understand what the sheriff does,” said Nickelson. “He’s not a patrol deputy. He administers a large organization with more than 600 employees and a $70 million budget and he performs those tasks unilaterally.”

During an interview on KSLA News 12 This Morning, KSLA’s Steven Maxwell asked Nickelson if he is concerned there could be a relatability issue with law enforcement officers.

“You know I don’t think that there will be because I have spent so many months on the campaign trail talking to hundreds of law enforcement officers and what I’ve heard again and again from them is that they recognized my commitment to law enforcement while I was a member of the city council,” said Nickelson.

Meanwhile, Whitehorn has spent most of his career in law enforcement. He served as state trooper, Shreveport’s Chief of Police and U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Louisiana. Whitehorn also served as Shreveport’s Chief Administrative Officer under Mayor Adrian Perkins.

“When I was chief of police, we reduced crime to its lowest level in 30 years. Homicides were reduced by 54 percent. I have the experience and the knowledge to bring those relationships to bear,” said Whitehorn.

Another big issue they’ll face is the use of stop and frisk. It allows officers to pat down someone if they suspect the person committed or is about to commit a crime. Whitehorn said the tactic discriminates against African Americans.

“I’ve said over and over again that the stop and frisk tactic is not something that we should use as a crime-fighting strategy,” said Whitehorn. “That tactic has been ruled unconstitutional in other jurisdictions. So, we shouldn’t employ anything that’s going to target people based on their race.”

Steven - “Did you use that tactic in your previous law enforcement experience?”

“Every police officer has. But it’s a narrow exception to the 14th amendment. It’s not a practice that you want to employ in our communities,” said Whitehorn.

“This is an appropriate and absolutely necessary investigatory technique that is used in every jurisdiction all over the country,” said Nickelson. “Of course, I oppose any use of stop and frisk or other tactics that are racially discriminatory.”

Election day is set for November 18.