Concerns about racial division raised during Shreveport police chief confirmation debate


SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The confirmation of Ben Raymond as Shreveport’s Chief of Police came only after two hours of public comments during Tuesday’s council meeting.

“I feel that Mayor Perkins sought the most qualified person and he had the courage to make that choice and I commend him for that,” Shreveport Parker Brown told the council.

Liz Swaine called Raymond the best police chief she’s ever worked with while she’s been at the Downtown Development Authority.

“I tell him a concern, he works to correct that concern. I’ve found him to be responsive, willing to listen, smart and willing to try new ideas.”

Opponents of Raymond’s confirmation also spoke out, with some making allegations of division within the police department.

“Sadly the department under Chief Raymond’s command has been divided along racial lines,” said Bobby Henderson.

That alleged division was called out several times during the meeting, which had an unprecedented number of officers present.

Marvin Muhammad pointed out that white officers could literally be seen gathered on one side of the packed city council chambers, while black officers on the other.

Before Raymond’s confirmation vote, Mayor Adrian Perkins made an impassioned plea to the community.

“This is a moment for us to actually come together as a community to stand behind the police chief.”

After days of uncertainty leading up to Tuesday’s vote, council chairman Jerry Bowman said he is ready to look ahead

“I think now that the city and police department can move forward with what they have been plagued with and going through for the past couple of months.”

In a unanimous vote, all seven council members approved Raymond’s confirmation.

“I am 100 percent standing behind Chief Raymond and I am going to hold him accountable just like each and every one of you are going to hold me accountable,” Mayor Perkins said.

Chief Raymond will now serve on a 12-month probationary period. During that time it would be up to the Perkin’s discretion to remove him.

RELATED: Ask the Chief: Your questions answered live

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