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Shreveport Police Department chief’s forced overtime program draws action from mayor, attorney

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    SHREVEPORT, LA (KTBS ) — Mayor Adrian Perkins has intervened in a police overtime issue that’s drawn fire against Shreveport’s top cop. That’s according to an attorney representing officers, Pam Breedlove, who says the program violates state law.

Chief Ben Raymond has implemented the Emergency Supplemental Patrol Program for his short-handed department. He says they’re nearly a hundred officers short now. That’s due to officers leaving to nearby agencies for better pay.

It means that officers are required to work extra shifts –sometimes double shifts with short notice. Officers who refuse could face discipline, including suspension. Raymond considers it insubordination if an officer refuses his emergency directive.

But Breedlove says Perkins intervened for a female officer, who is a single mom, who was suspended.

“The mayor, my understanding, instructed the chief to reinstate my officer who was suspended for 30 days the week before Christmas. But what they mayor probably doesn’t know, is that there’s still two more complaints pending against that same officer,” Breedlove said.

Another source says the officer’s punishment was reduced to a letter of reprimand.

Perkins’ office has not confirmed any of that information to KTBS 3 News. And Raymond’s spokesman says he’s unaware of this situation.

Breedlove says she hopes the Perkins administration will continue to be active in preventing more harsh discipline against the female officer and her fellow officers.

Raymond, when he spoke earlier, would not discuss individual cases. But he said the supplemental shift program is needed to maintain minimum patrol staffing.

“If we allow officers to choose whether they’re going to follow a legal directive, then we’re going to have a really hard time staffing shifts appropriately or making any decisions when you’re dealing with people’s lives and the safety of the community,” Raymond said.

In addition to the emergency patrol shifts, Raymond says he’s shifted officers from specialized units to help cover the streets during what’s been a violent year.

Raymond says city attorneys approved his emergency order. But Breedlove claims the law the chief cites is for emergencies such as natural disasters.

“That is a staffing problem. That is a managerial problem. It is not an emergency,” Breedlove says of the officer shortage.

But Raymond says rising bloodshed has contributed to his finding of an emergency.

“We’ve got, 74, 75 homicides in the city so far this year,” Raymond said, as the city saw another homicide in the Ingleside neighborhood on Friday morning. “That’s an 80 percent increase or so over last year. This is a true emergency.”

He acknowledges that at times officers have to work a double on very short notice. However officers should know their number is coming up under an on-call schedule.

“If we didn’t require officers to work additional shifts in some case, we’d be 20 officers short that day,” Raymond says, while admitting the program could drive more officers to resign.

Breedlove warns that the forced overtime will make the officer shortage worse.

“This hundred officers short — if this doesn’t change by July — this department will be 200 officers short. I promise you that,” she said.

Breedlove represents officers who appeal their punishments before the civil service board.

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