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Monday, May 3, 2021

Headquarters Unacceptable

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Police and city representatives agree building substandard

The Shreveport Police headquarters at 1234 Texas Ave. in downtown Shreveport is showing signs of age. That’s something everyone can agree on.

There is no money available in the budget to resolve the issues or building a new headquarters. That’s something else everyone agrees on.

“It’s condemnable,” said Dr. Michael Carter, president of the Shreveport Police Officers Association. “We shouldn’t be in it. I dare you to look at any apartment building in the city of Shreveport. No one is living in a building like we are.”

The building’s maintenance falls under the purview of Shreveport Parks and Recreation (SPAR). Shelly Ragle, director of SPAR, said that not only is the building aging, it also was not built for that purpose.

“That building is over 70 years old,” she said. “It was not built as a police department. So it’s been retrofitted more than once. It has all the inherent problems of a 70-year-old building.”

Carter describes some of those inherent problems.

“Mainly, it’s water in the bathrooms,” he said. “None of the male urinals work. The commodes work intermittently. They shut the men’s bathroom in the patrol division down because it flooded with contaminated water. The renovated gym was done around 2001 or 2002. There’s one male commode and one urinal in there.

“The floors are in disrepair. The HVAC is temporary. There’s not really any AC in the building. It’s not as you would expect,” Carter continued.

Ragle said her department stays busy keeping up with the building.

“We do a lot of maintenance there,” she said. “We spend as much money there as we do anywhere. We have full-time maintenance people there. It’s a 70-plus-year-old building with piping that is deteriorating. As we looked at it, trying to renovate is going to cost more in the long run.”

Carter and Ragle agreed that building a new police headquarters made more sense than pouring money into maintaining the current building.

“You can’t update this,” Carter said. “You’re going to have to do a new building.”

“That was exactly what we talked about,” Ragle said. “Build a new one in place and tear the old one down when they move out.”

The issue is funding that construction. The city has no capital budget for a new police headquarters, Ragle said. A bond proposal that included dedicated funds for a new police station was defeated by voters during Mayor Adrian Perkins’ first year in office.

That proposal was presented to voters after an architect’s site survey was done to evaluate building a new headquarters at the current location.

“The plan development was before the bond issue so that we could build that facility right there on site,” Ragle said. “That was our goal. That bond issue was to put it right there. Everybody agrees that’s the best location.”

That is another point where Carter agrees. “The police department is in a central location,” he said. “It needs to stay there for timely response. We never discussed at all the giving up of the location. All we have asked for is the replacing of the building.”

Carter said he does not blame voters for defeating the bond issue. But he does feel the ongoing issues with the dilapidated building send the wrong message to the city’s police officers.

“This sends a clear message that the administration just does not care about the conditions we work in,” he said. “For years, we fought it about cars. Now it’s the actual building we work in and out of.

“I don’t blame the people for not passing bonds. We’ve done bonds before for things like livable wages and equipment. Why should we hand you more money in bonds when we have done this consistently over the past 25 years?” Carter said.

Ragle said it is time for something to be done, but the city must have a way to pay for it.

“It is going to take something like a bond issue to replace police headquarters,” she said. “It’s time. It’s a 70-year-old building. The police department moved in in 1997 or 1998. It seems like yesterday, but it’s been 20-plus years in a building that was already 50 years old. Look at the communities around us that are building new buildings. It was No. 1 on the list. I hope that we are able to do another bond issue and that the community will get out and support it.”

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