SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The cameras that catch speeding drivers in the city of Shreveport stirred up controversy among residents. Now it is bringing public dollars into the city which led to a city council debate over where the money should go.
“If these tickets were given by police officers we wouldn’t be having these conversations. Because it’s given by an automatic ticket machine now the money is up for grabs,” Jim Taliaferro, City Council District C said.
“If we didn’t have these tickets we wouldn’t have this money to allocate anywhere,” Dr. Alan Jackson, City Council District E said.
Shreveport City Council did come together to unanimously pass the new fund for the police department called the Public Safety Special Revenue Fund. The council also agreed a portion should go to Streets and Drainage for street repairs around the city. But allocating the rest of the funds became the center of a debate about which non-profit or group deserves it more.
Two sets of similar legislation were up for a vote during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
The original introduced by council members Tabatha Taylor and Dr. Alan Jackson would use revenue from traffic violations through Blue Line solutions to support the police department, Streets and Drainage, with 20% for the Early Start Initiative and 10% for the Financial Empowerment Center. Two programs Jackson said are already under the city and not outside non-profits.
“We have to make sure our citizens are empowered. They have the credit. They have the financial literacy in order to be able to invest back into the city. A lot of times we are waiting for outside people to come in to save Shreveport when we have to build up our own,” Jackson said.
Councilman Grayson Boucher originally seconded this funding decision saying the Early Start Initiative is a worthy cause. However, after being contacted by constituents and considering the great need for solving crime in the city, he along with councilmembers Jim Taliaferro and Gary Brooks brought forth an amendment to change who receives the additional funds.
“I don’t believe this money that is collected by law enforcement needs to go to anything other than public safety,” Jim Taliaferro, City Council District C said.
They requested that 15% go to the Crime Lab of Northwest Louisiana with 5% for the Gingerbread House Child Advocacy Center. Two organizations that serve law enforcement and help prosecute criminals.
“We can’t go anywhere until our citizens are safe. I think the Gingerbread House and the Crime Lab were worthy recipients. Hopefully, this council will come together to get additional funds for them,” Grayson Boucher, City Council District D said.
All the council members said each of these groups deserves more public funding. But the vote was split three to four. With Taylor and Jackson’s original ordinance going into effect.
The Public Safety Special Revenue Fund goes into effect immediately with about two-million dollars in financial impact for the police department.