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Thursday, March 7, 2024

SPD Bond Projects


Ground breaking, planning and re-evalutation of needs

The Shreveport Police Department is moving forward with plans to decentralize their operations to substations serving specific districts of the city and expanding available services in those locations. The move will place police services much closer to the populations they serve and protect, according to Police Chief Wayne Smith.

A 2021 bond election earmarked about $27 million for reconstruction and updating of the police headquarters building, $6 million for substations and $2 million for renovations and upgrades to the city jail, as well as allocations for a new mobile command vehicle, an armored personnel vehicle and renovations to the fire and police academy.

But passing a bond issue and putting the funds to use are different things, Chief Smith explained.

“In 2021 the bond election passed, the chances were good it was late 2022 [before] any bond was sold and any funding was available to do anything. That’s probably something the public wouldn’t realize. When the general public goes to get a personal loan, in 30 days you got your money, but government projects are not that way. And I’m not sure if all of those bonds have been sold yet.”

Such projects usually happen in phases, Chief Smith said. As soon as the bond issue was approved, Chief Smith began planning how to achieve the goals of the multiple projects. While the emergency vehicles have been ordered and are being designed and built, the plans for the substations and headquarters are more complex.

“We began looking for suitable locations for police substations, and property acquisition is another unbelievably lengthy process in government,” the chief noted. The North Shreveport Business Association donated property in the 1500 block of North Market for one substation. Site testing and preliminary paperwork were completed for that location in 2023, and ground was broken for the project last month.

Meanwhile, ground was broken for the West Shreveport substation on Feb. 28. The facility will be located at the corner of Monkhouse and Interstate Drive, which was formerly the Foremost Dairy.

“When you’re trying to build a new building in government, you try to utilize a building government already owns,” Smith explained. “It came to my attention that the city owned that [property].”

The department’s traffic services, which include DWI enforcement, radar enforcement, the motorcycle division and the K-9 Corp, will relocate there.

A location has not yet been established for the proposed third substation. According to Chief Smith, inflationary pressure, which has grown since the bond issue was passed, will make it difficult to stand up the three proposed substations for the money that was allocated. He said the general estimate to build one substation is $4 to $6 million.

“Police headquarters, $27 million was allocated for that,” Smith said. “What worried me is the cost of demolition. This building is not your ordinary, everyday building. As you walk around this building, you’re going to find concrete walls and plaster instead of Sheetrock and two-by-fours.”

Available money, logistics, and time are factors that must be balanced before all the departmental improvements can become realities, Chief Smith said. “We’re going to do what we’ve got to do with what we’ve got to work with.”


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