An attorney representing the Shreveport Police Officer’s Association (SPOA) has sent a letter to several high ranking members of the city government, including Mayor Ollie Tyler and SPD Chief Crump, alleging that the department has broken Louisiana law. SPOA is alleging that the Shreveport Police Department is trying to prevent new police officers from joining the SPOA.
In the six-page letter written by Pamela Breedlove, an attorney with the Breedlove law firm in Bossier City, were several accusations that officers from SPD, especially those officers at the police training academy, intentionally mislead recruits in hopes of scaring them away from SPOA.
There is also an accusation that some SPD officers told recruits that SPOA is not a union, which is incorrect..
The letter cites an incident that occurred in December of 2017, when training academy officer Sgt. Briana Rivera gave a speech to the cadets and warned them not to associate with SPOA, and stated that if cadets agreed to a free lunch given by SPOA “they would be forced to sign union cards and would owe SPOA.”
The letter claims that when SPOA president Michael Carter, Ph.D. learned that SPD training academy officers were misleading new recruits, he contacted Lt. Tedris Smith, who works at the academy. The letter states that Lt. Smith stated “this is coming from above me.”
Michael Carter also talked with Capt. Brian Strange. Carter says that initially Strange said SPOA would no longer be allowed to speak at the police academy, as it always has, and it was no longer being considered a union by SPD.
Not satisfied with the answers he was getting, Carter finally talked to Deputy Chief Bill Goodin. The two men went back and forth, but eventually, Goodin gave Carter permission to speak with the new academy recruits. However currently, SPOA has been told by Sgt. Rivera that before they present to the academy, they will have to meet with the SPD human resources department to review policies and procedures.
SPOA feels that they are under attack from SPD, and stated the following:
In her email, Sgt. Riveria refused to acknowledge SPOA by name and failed to recognize SPOA as a union. It appears that Capt. Strange and Sgt. Rivera are continuing to act on behalf of the City of Shreveport under the erroneous concept that SPOA is somehow not a union. Capt. Strange and his staff are attempting to downgrade SPOA to the level of credit unions, uniform and supply vendors, and other vendors with regards access to the cadets. This new founded misconception cannot be permitted to continue.
In addition to the claims, Breedlove also outlines why she believes that the Shreveport Police Department has broken the law. In her letter she states:
SPOA has over 500 members. It files an annual tax return as a labor organization. It has been recognized as a labor organization by Governor John Bel Edwards, members of the Louisiana Legislature, the Fraternal Order of Police, numerous referral agencies, the media, and all of the former Mayors of the City of Shreveport. As you can see from a simple review of the statute,
Louisiana law does not require any particular organizational form or any state or national affiliation or accreditation. This is likely why all of these state representatives and former City officials have recognized SPOA’s existence and rights as a labor organization.
Since 1977, SPOA was given one hour during the academy to meet with cadets to discuss issues about being a police officer and the option of becoming a member of SPOA. This one hour has historically been from 11 a.m. to noon. As the cadets have lunch from noon to 1 p.m.,
SPOA decided abut 14 years ago to hold their one hour meeting at a near by restaurant and host a lunch after the presentation about SPOA. This has been the standard procedure for SPOA 14 years without interference from SPD Administration.
The statements by Sgt. Riveria and Capt. Strange in December and continuing into this year clearly reflect an organized effort by SPD (and therefore the City of Shreveport) to interfere with the rights of SPOA and its members to represent members and unionize additional members. This is a clear violation of Louisiana law. In 1934, the Louisiana Legislature enacted the Little Norris-LaGuardia Acts that prohibit such actions by employers and established the policy of
protection for workers in Louisiana.
Breedlove hopes that this strongly worded letter will resolve the issue, and hopes that city officials and SPOA can work out their differences. However, she states that if city officials continue to “fail and refuse to acknowledge and comply with the law recognizing SPOA and its members’ rights to organize and/or refuses to meet with Dr. Carter, then SPOA will have no choice but to file suit against the City and all individuals who continue to violate the law for injunctive relief.”
Breedlove said the SPOA would be filing suit in the first week of March 2018 if the matter was not resolved by then.
Shreveport News reached out to the Shreveport Police Department via Facebook message and did not receive a reply.
See the entire letter below