Monday, December 13, 2010

Police presence at Louisiana Boardwalk

In an earlier post about the proposed Bossier City budget, commenters got into a discussion about funding the police presence at the Boardwalk.
Councilman Don Williams talked to the Finance Director and to the Police Chief in an attempt to put this in perspective.
He found that there are seven officers assigned to the Boardwalk.  Friday and Saturday nights see six officers per night while there are three to five working on weeknights.  At times reserve officers are also used, as well as private security officers paid for by the Boardwalk and/or the businesses.  The private officers, however, have no real authority and have to call on the police for assistance in some cases.
From January through the end of November of this year the city has collected $2,752,522 from the Boardwalk.  That is just the city's 2.5%.
Although the Boardwalk wasn't fully leased out during the first couple of years of its existence, to date, through the end of November, the city has collected $16,839,822 in sales taxes.
I don't know what it costs to provide seven police officers for a year, but I think that considering insurance and retirement contributions, the figure would be less than $500,000 per year.  That's just my guess, you can make your own guess.
I do believe the key question to ask is whether the Boardwalk would be as attractive as it is to families without the police presence.
Do you think that this is a legitimate expenditure for the city to make?  Do you think the city should pull these officers and leave the Boardwalk to its own devices?


  1. Just off the top of my head:

    I believe that if the tax-payer funded police presence were to cease, and sagging drawers ensued, the Boardwalk would experience diminished receipts, and the "powers that be" at the Boardwalk would seek to correct the downturn, thus hiring their own security which would probably be off duty police officers.

    I would think that a switch to privately funded security would be easier now than when the Boardwalk opened because the Boardwalk now has a reputation of being a family friendly and respectable location, and they wouldn't want to tarnish their reputation and anger a customer base.

  2. Matt, I'm gonna somewhat disagree. A recent career change has given me some insight into this.

    The BoardWalk has their own Security, and they are good men, and do a challenging job.

    But the truth is that BCPD Officers are WAY more respected, and have MUCH more authority than private security folks do. Trust me. I know.

    It's just the facts on the ground. Your average Joe that might have one too many is MUCH more likely to comply if there is a Police Officer there that can haul his rear end off to spend the weekend in the Graybar Hotel.

    As you noted, the Boardwalk has a reputation of being "family friendly." Just my personal opinion's working, and working well with the BCPD, and Boardwalk Security like it is.

    The cost to the city is minimal, and the return is more than I ever figured it would be when that "pipe dream" called The Boardwalk was proposed.

    I say leave it be.

  3. Andy, You said it better than I could of and you hit the nail on the head.

  4. Andy,

    As I mentioned in my first comment, "private security" could be off duty officers. The only difference is in who is picking up the tab, the consumers or the taxpayers.

    Off duty officers regularly work as security for all kinds of other events and businesses, why should the Boardwalk be any different? Does Mall St. Pierre hire their own, or does the city pay for that as well?

  5. Thanks Bubba.

    Matt, I understand where you're coming from. Really, I do.

    I don't have strong feelings about this one way or another. But, the Boardwalk contributes to the city in ways that most other private firms don't. (Not all, but most).

    It's a unique operation, so I certainly understand the city's involvement. When I say "leave it be," it's because I'm the type of guy that believes if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    If the city pulled the police out, it would have no control over who the Boardwalk hires. I don't think the council could tell the Boardwalk that they had to hire off duty you never know what you'd get. I know quite a few security folks, and work in the biz myself. Most are just fine, but honestly there are many loose canons that slip through into employment.

    I'd just hate to see the Boardwalk go the way of Southpark Mall. We all remember what happened there when security broke down.

    Like I say, I don't have strong feelings one way or another. But, I don't feel jipped that my tax dollars go to keep a police presence there.

  6. The cops protect the city's investment. This Matt guy is short sighted.

  7. I would think the powers that be at the Boardwalk would do what it takes to keep the Boardwalk from going the way of Southpark Mall. Nobody likes to have a failing business, so I'd think the Boardwalk would hire those best suited and readily available for keeping their investment secure.

    @Anonymous, you say, "The cops protect the city's investment." Every privately owned business in town is a source of revenue for the city.

    For the sake of academic exercise let's say Bossier City sees the Boardwalk as BC's "investment". Would that then enable Bossier City to mandate that Boardwalk must use taxpayer funded police officers? If the city has a vested interest, would that give them the power to control how that business operates? Where is the line drawn between private business and government intervention? Does the City have the power to "protect it's investment" in a privately owned business?

  8. Matt,
    This is my last statement on this issue because I believe my opinion is obvious. This is a Public/Private venture. We do have a stake in this developement. The Boardwalk has minimum wage SECURITY that has no power except to say "Turn your hat around" or something minor. Nothing says they must hire off duty officers. Yes, Bossier City has a vested interest or investment. We must keep it safe and we will keep BC Police there.

  9. Don,

    As I said before, all these questions are just an academic exercise. I never claimed that Bossier City didn't have an interest in the business, but I did pose a few questions regarding the idea of the free market and government involvement.

    Having said just over a dozen words, all of them equating to "ditto", your opinion was not made obvious. You failed to address any of my followup questions, even simply for the sake of academic exercise. You seem to have no desire to do engage in such dialogue.

  10. As far as who to hire. I been working in the eletronic end of the security industry for over 20 years and about all the hire secuirty agencies can do is be eyes and ears of where my equipment cant see, fill out paperwork, call for help and a few other things. Sometimes their presence helps and sometimes it doesn't. In my neck of the woods, the industrial plnats have been hiring off duty police officers and their cars, with them in uniform for homeland security. I know many of the businesses at christmas hire them also. They do have more clout. Now the whole issue of who payse for them? Perhaps as long as the boardwalk continues to pump in money to the economy, it might be a good idea to keep them there. But this raises another question. The companies that have to hire officers incur an operation expense that those on the boardwalk don't have to pay for. Of course the cost to rent space on the boardwalk may be a drawback, but being on the boardwalk may make up or exceed that cost. I have no answer, but I do feel safe when I visit there.

  11. The 14th Amendment supposedly guarantees equal protection of the law, so what is important is that all of the citizens of Bossier City and all of the businesses in Bossier City be treated with equity. I would think that police resources should be allocated according to the level of the threat, and not according to the level of tax revenue. As a truckdriver, I would not want to get murdered and robbed just because my job required me to deliver goods to a business that does not generate much in sales tax while all of the police are protecting those who deliver to the businesses at the Boardwalk which generate so much sales tax.

  12. Most of you know that I am about as conservative as it gets on most issues - typically way less government. I'm also not a fan of police presence except when needed.

    However, in the case of The Boardwalk, I firmly believe my tax dollars for the police presence are well spent.

    Case in point, while I'm always armed, I tend to feel much safer with my family at The Boardwalk rather than walking downtown Shreveport. Are there cops across the bridge? Yep, but the "presence" isn't felt nearly as much.

    Am I worried about "getting murdered or robbed" there? Nope. If I get murdered or robbed, it's my fault for not being aware of my immediate environment and not drawing fast enough. ;)

    Should we tell on-duty cops to not hang out at the convenience stores? Should they stay away from the bars unless called? The principle is the same. They are paid to help protect private property as well as the citizens.

    The Boardwalk is a private venture (with public incentives); however, the point of the police department is to protect and serve the citizens of Bossier City. There are a lot of citizens that congregate at The Boardwalk, including me.

    This is one of the few cases where I actually believe the increased cop presence is a good thing. It pains me to say it - but I've found most of the cops at The Boardwalk to be "pleasant" to deal with.

  13. Rex, I pretty much agree with you. I fully understand Matt's point of view, and he is not incorrect, but it is what it is and it works.
    The same arguments could be made against putting officers in the coolers at convenience stores to prevent robberies, but that has proved to be effective too - and they are on private property protecting merchants.
    Andy said if it ain't broke don't fix it. I think that applies here.

  14. @Rex Moncrief: "If I get murdered or robbed, it is my fault for not being aware of my immediate environment and not drawing fast enough."

    It is incredible that a supposedly sane person would say such a thing in this era. Yesterday, 72 year old Butch Bays was murdered and robbed in his own business, and according to your testimony such a thing was his own fault for not being an old West quick-draw artist. Shot in the back multiple times by a scum-of-the-Earth cowardly theif, but people are supposed to think that such a thing is the person's own fault. You, Rex Moncrief, are an a$$hole.


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