SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — District B City Councilwoman, Levette Fuller held a press briefing on the steps of Government Plaza Monday morning to discuss the council’s ongoing plans for police reform.
City council will vote on legislation requesting a pattern and process investigation from the Department of Justice Tuesday, July 14th. Fuller says she has sponsored the legislation behind the delayed confirmation of two deaths in Shreveport police custody, Tommie McGlothen Jr., and Wavey Austin.
“The pattern of process would entail the Department of Justice’s civil rights division conducting a thorough independent investigation to bring light to any persistent pattern of misconduct in the police department,” said Fuller.
Resolution 83 is a direct response from citizen’s request for reform of the department and a direct reaction from lack of transparency about issues that tear away the trust between citizens and the police force.
“Our community cannot endure more instances like those that clouded the circumstances around the death of Mr. Anthony Childs in 2019 or the death of Mr. McGlothen or Mr. Wavey Austin in April of 2020.”
Fuller says that additionally, the city is reeling from the indictment of 8 officers accused of using excessive force on two Shreveport men back in January.
Nationally, the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have been a topic of police brutality and Fuller says we cannot march for them but ignore similar situations in our own backyard.
From research obtained by public documents, comments from community members and anonymous notes from previous Shreveport police officers, Fuller also says there’s been many instances of excessive force, abuse of power, neglect in investigations and hostile work environments.
She says this includes 39 officers on leave for administrative and criminal investigations as well as the 8 that were indicted.
“Our community does not feel safe. Our homicide rate is set to triple this year, but that is not the only concern. Our community members do not trust the police,” said Fuller.
Her research has also revealed numerous early retirements and resignations from officers who have moved on to different departments in the region citing better pay.
“Our officers don’t serve for pay alone, but if morale is low and respect is dwindling officers will not work where they do not feel valued. Something is rotten in our department. To unearth these issues will require objective independent investigations by an agency outside of our local jurisdiction.”
Fuller says that officers deserve a good work environment especially because they risk the ultimate sacrifice trying to keep communities safe.
She was suppose to be joined by council members Tabatha Taylor of District A , James Green of District F, and Jerry Bowman of District G according to a press release, but Fuller was only joined by community activist, Breka Peoples.
“I expected to see more of my colleages standing here with me today, but I guess there were some technical difficulties. I’m fine standing alone if the people are with me.”
Fuller says systemic disfunction within the police department isn’t a racial issue. She says she’s been approached by both Black and white community members who voice their distain for recent conduct. She says it’s also the responsibility of the council to make a change.
There’s currently a public petition to support Resolution 83.