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Monday, July 30, 2018

GOOD SHEPHERDS

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Officials must take responsibility for public safety

Jesus used the simile of the shepherd when he spoke of Himself, saying He was the “Good Shepherd.” Good shepherds, after all, were important in the world of the Old Testament because without the shepherd and his dog, a herd of sheep could not survive.

The skilled shepherd, you see, led his sheep to greener pastures and water, and protected them from the wolves in this world, using his rod and staff. The experienced shepherd was one who had the heart of service to lead his flock and feed them, even before himself, as well as to go after any wandering ones who became hopelessly lost, but whom he later found.

He guarded them, day and night, protecting them from the weather and thieves, and if necessary, he would lay down his life for them – for a good shepherd would not run away in the face of danger.

Unfortunately, this is not the image of our leadership today in communities across the country. Instead of serving others, as the shepherd did, too many so-called “leaders” in our midst are more concerned with their own well-being than the people’s (or the flock’s), and with their own egos than with their efforts (or their service unto others). They approach nearly every opportunity with a “what’s in it for me” mentality – and it shows.

Take, for example, the matter of crime in our community. Deadly shootings continue day after day, night after night, and yet Mayor Tyler and Police Chief Crump act as if there is nothing extraordinary to see here or to do, yet families continue losing their loved ones, and more and more citizens fear leaving their own homes in the first place.

They tell us that crime is down, generally speaking. But tell that to the mother of the 4-year-old child who was shot in a late-night shooting, or the father who is working two jobs to pay rent for an apartment where his young family hears gunshots throughout the night, but can’t afford to move. Explain how violent crime has decreased to the families of those shoppers at Wal-Mart on Bert Kouns, caught in the crossfire last week, where the shooter was charged with nothing more than “discharging a firearm within the city limits.”

Of course, Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator agreed to help the city of Shreveport patrol against violent crime back in June. This assistance would have put Caddo Parish deputy sheriffs in the southern part of the city, and shifted police officers to higher-crime neighborhoods. Even the Louisiana State Police was considering patrolling Shreveport.

But when it came time for Chief Crump and Sheriff Prator to meet and work out the details of this plan, Chief Crump was a no-show. Chief Crump blamed Sheriff Prator for unspecified reasons. And then Mayor Tyler decided to get in on the “blame game” and pointed the finger at the Caddo Parish Commission, saying, “We can’t respond for what the parish commission didn’t do.”

But instead of blaming the sheriff or the Commision, the truth of this inability to get together on the same page may simply be that Chief Crump (and perhaps the mayor) had decided they were not too keen on having anyone else, other than the Shreveport Police Department, patrolling city streets. But is that what’s best for the community or what’s best for their image? And is that image more important than the safety of our community?

There is hardly any Shreveport family who cares about who is to blame, or why the “plan” for the sheriff to patrol Shreveport didn’t materialize – or any of the other backroom, political backbiting that goes on. They just want their families to feel safe and for our city leaders to take responsibility, not point fingers.

You see, the good shepherd never blames the sheep for getting lost or hurt. He or she takes responsibility for the flock and doesn’t say, “What can I do? My sheep are out of control.”

But isn’t that what’s being said at City Hall today?

You see, the Bible warns us against “shepherds” who fail in their responsibilities to protect their “flocks.” The Book of Ezekiel reminds us that bad leadership will bring disaster.

So for those who have lived in Shreveport over the past 20 years, isn’t that the truth?

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac. com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.

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