Almost three years of a collective insanity arose to make police departments woke, Shreveport appears to be paying the price in a manner that may cost lives.
Recently, a black fleeing suspect named Alonzo Bagley was shot fatally by white Shreveport police officer Alexander Tyler. This occurred not long after black Memphis police officers appeared to break every rule in the book in the apprehension, then death, of a black suspect Tyre Nichols.
The Memphis case has drawn far more attention and commentary echoing a worldview that began taking prominence in the late spring of 2020 with the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who died in custody of non-black police officers. From that the widespread trope, up until then largely confined to certain academic quarters and political circles, developed that unarmed black suspects dying in arrest situations was a function of police brutality as a specific manifestation of systemic racism inculcated into American society and institutions.
Since then, as a response to this alleged condition, evidence is that police departments around the country decided that greater minority presences on their forces would address this presumed rot, adopting commonly as a tactic to promote this a general reduction in qualifications including greater tolerance of previous criminal records. At the same time, the relentless attention the media and politicians placed upon police actions in framing these as products of the trope coincided with a surge in retirements and voluntary separations from departments, data show, especially in larger jurisdictions leaving these significantly below acceptable staffing levels and compounding the tolerance of hiring and retaining less qualified individuals to make up the gap.
Shreveport has proven itself no exception to this worrisome trend. Not much more than a year later due to manpower shortages it was petitioning the state to change state law affecting its staffing options, announcing due to these it would not respond to a number of situations involving potential criminal behavior, and that it was short at least 100 officers.
At this time Tyler was hired into the department and almost immediately upon hitting the streets, he began to rack up a number of departmental violations. At least seven occurred in fewer than two years, for which he received at best slaps on the wrist. A more serious use-of-force complaint would have resulted in a hearing earlier this month, but Tyler’s shooting of Bagley happened right before it and it was cancelled.
The recent incident one independent expert conjectures happened as a result of improper weapon carriage. If true, that would indicate poor training and/or poor learning.
All this seems to indicate Tyler was a substandard officer from the start, and if in fact it’s determined he was negligent, the force’s coddling of his subpar performance may have come as a response to its difficulties in maintaining numbers and/or laxness of hiring standards. More excitable leftists will claim it’s all part of the illusory war on blacks engaged in by police departments (almost no unarmed blacks are killed by police every year, and force actually is less likely to be used against black suspects relative to suspects of other races), even by black officers who have been in essence brainwashed to serve this claimed white agenda.
Yet a far more realistic appraisal is that Shreveport police (whose current chief is black), to cope with declining numbers chased out by withering anti-police criticism from politicians, activists, and media and restraints placed upon officers’ abilities to do their jobs, thus hire and retain more and more personnel who in the past would not have passed muster. Because nobody good wants to be a cop in this environment.
And the depletion of quality has consequences. At the current pace of homicides in the city this year, this threatens to break the 2021 record of 93. Quite a price to pay for being politically fashionable.