SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - After multiple meetings discussing the issue, Caddo commissioners decided Thursday to delay their decision on whether to erect a $200,000 fence around the parish courthouse in downtown Shreveport.
The vote was 8-3 to postpone the decision for up to three months.
During that time, commissioners have tasked the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to assess to courthouse's vulnerability to any potential threats to its grounds and the people inside the building.
Sheriff Steve Prator, who heads the parish OHSEP office, voiced his support for the fence to commissioners Thursday.
"It's not in the same age as when that courthouse was built," he told KSLA News 12.
"Everybody keeps saying 'We've had it this long and never needed the fence.' We've never had the homeless problem that we have now. We've never had the mental illness problem. We've never had a polarized society like we have now."
With the growing number of rallies on the courthouse grounds, Prator said it's becoming too costly for his deputies to protect demonstrators.
A fence could change that, he said.
"Well, within the last two years, we spent $16,000 overtime just because there was a group down there that wanted to walk with Confederate flags and had an open-carry," Prator said.
"So they were walking around with pistols, walking around the grounds of the courthouse with Confederate flags, because there were no ordinances that will prohibit that."
Still, commissioners said before their vote Thursday that they want to see an objective assessment of possible threats to the courthouse before committing hundreds of thousands of dollars to a fence.
"We can hire and get an assessment to see what is the real threat assessment to the courthouse," District 10 Commissioner Mario Chavez said.
Thursday's delay pushes any vote on the fence proposal to the commission's first meeting in January.