As a citizen born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, and thus, deeply invested in the future of this city, I am concerned for our future. It is evident that we are facing significant challenges that demand our immediate attention and action.
Our once thriving city has experienced a decline due to the departure of the oil and manufacturing industries, leaving a void in our economy. Regrettably, our government officials have not done enough to create new economic opportunities to replace the jobs that were lost. Consequently, a large portion of our population, approximately 25%, now lives at or below the poverty line.
As a result of this economic hardship, crime has become a pressing issue in Shreveport. Gun homicides, particularly committed by young males aged 18-20, who were born into poverty and did not return to school after the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, have risen alarmingly. We must acknowledge that these individuals, without proper support from their families and communities, have become vulnerable to engaging in criminal activities due to limited economic prospects. This situation poses a significant problem for our city, discouraging businesses from investing here and causing residents to move away, while deterring tourists due to concerns about violent crime.
Additionally, our esteemed Shreveport Police Department is facing considerable challenges. With only around 600 officers responsible for policing approximately 185,000 citizens, we must recognize that they are spread too thin. Moreover, they are not adequately compensated for the vital work they do to ensure the safety and security of our community.
Now, let’s set aside the issues faced by larger cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. Our focus should be on safeguarding the well-being of our own families, friends, and the community we call home. To achieve this, we must take the first step towards revitalizing Shreveport: increasing the size of our police department and providing them with a well-deserved raise. By doing so, we can instill confidence in businesses, assuring them that their investments will be protected. We need to give the people of Shreveport something to be proud of, beyond the unfortunate distinction of being ranked the 8th most dangerous city in the United States.
Furthermore, we must address our city’s infrastructure. No business wants to operate in a city where dilapidated roads cause damage to their equipment and transportation becomes a nightmare, particularly in scorching temperatures. I fully support Mayor Arceneaux’s proposal to issue bonds, enabling us to swiftly upgrade critical services and infrastructure. Time is of the essence, as we risk Shreveport becoming a ghost town. As coastal cities face increasing challenges, many individuals will seek refuge elsewhere. Shreveport and the surrounding areas have the potential to become an economic powerhouse in the South, rivaling even Dallas, Texas. Moreover, the recently approved plans for a passenger rail line connecting Dallas to Shreveport, Meridian, and all the way to Atlanta, Georgia, offer a promising future. Such a development would reduce the desire for individuals to flee our city, potentially saving lives, and attracting new opportunities.
In conclusion, let us come together, regardless of our political affiliations or opinions on law enforcement, to secure a prosperous future for Shreveport. We must invest in our police department, strengthen our infrastructure, and seize the opportunity to position ourselves as a thriving city that people are proud to call home. The time to act is now, and I implore each of you to consider the urgency of these matters.