SHREVEPORT, La. — The feud over police pay raises is now up in big, bold letters.
The Shreveport Police Officers’ Association (SPOA) put up billboards in Councilman Grayson Boucher’s district in the southeast part of the city. They flash messages addressed aimed at Boucher.
One says, “How many citizens have to be shot or killed before you address the needs of officers that risk their lives?”
Another asks, “How many officers have to resign before you will consider us as important as your friends?”
SPOA President Michael Carter indicates that’s a reference to the city’s firefighters. Boucher helped include them for pay raises after Councilwoman Levette Fuller first proposed raise for police only.
Boucher chairs the city’s public safety committee. It’s advanced a plan that the chiefs of the police and fire departments support. They say raises of four percent are all the city can afford right now.
That’s not satisfied the SPOA.
“We’re willing to negotiate to something a little bit more reasonable. Or a little bit more agreeable,” Carter says. “We’re not going down to four percent. Four percent does not accomplish the issue. And that’s retaining police officers.”
Carter says the department is down 89 officers.
Boucher responded to the union leader, saying, “I’m sorry. I mean I wish we could do what Sgt. Carter wants with my whole heart. Our guys deserve a lot more than what they’re getting. They work hard. They’re stressed to the max. I know what’s going on.”
Another union of Shreveport Police officers has a different take. The Shreveport Police Union thanked Boucher for his efforts to fund pay raises in the plan that Chief Ben Raymond supports. That’s because it un-funds fewer police jobs to pay for the raises.
The Shreveport Police Union posted on Facebook: “Council members Grayson Boucher and LeVette Fuller were making an attempt to help the Shreveport Police Department. Recently, statements were made by other police organizations that falsely labeled Councilman Grayson Boucher’s intentions.”
Boucher and some other council members have said they’d like to find more money for additional raises, possibly through a small sales tax hike. They may let voters decide that in the spring.