SHREVEPORT, La. – There are still questions on why a group of people allegedly threw water balloons, and shouted offensive comments at firefighters. The incident happened while those firefighters were responding to an EMS call last Sunday at Ford Park. The Shreveport Police is investigating.
According to Police Chief Ben Raymond a look into the calls on that Sunday shows police were called to the Ford Park area at least 5 times for minor accidents, loud music, and loitering.
He says officers were called when the Fire Department was responding to a medical emergency related to one of those situations. Chief Raymond says he’s not sure what information was shared with police officers as they were arriving on the scene.
“We did detain a victim, and a suspect that had been throwing water balloons at one another, but in that instance, the victim, both citizens declined to pursue charges, and so nobody was arrested. What I’m not so sure of is whether our officers knew that the firemen had been accosted, or water balloons had been thrown at them.”
Chief Raymond goes on to say Police investigators are looking to see if the officers did everything appropriately, and if there is something that occurred that they might have missed. So far no charges have been filed against anyone in the crowd in connection with harassing the firefighters.
A couple of things comes into play anytime a 911 call is answered by a dispatcher. Often when there is a shooting or a life is threatened both police and firefighters get that call.
Chief Raymond says if the fire department is arriving at a scene which they believe is unsafe, they will stage a short distance away, far enough where they are safe, and wait until the police arrive and secure the scene.
If firefighters are already on scene of a medical emergency, and they find a large crowd, or realize the medical emergency is a result of a violent act, they will call for police. Firefighters will stay unless it gets too dangerous, then they will make the decision to pull out.
Chief Raymond says every scene is different, so there is no particular resource that is allocated to aid the fire department. He says it’s a difficult opinion to have about allocating firefighters with resources to defend themselves. He says he hopes that we wouldn’t continue to escalate in violence toward our firefighters where they get to a point where they would have to have round to round security.
Chief Raymond says he thinks there have been conversations, nationally about the possibility of commissioning, and arming firefighters as a whole. He says there are some firefighters who are commissioned police officers, some who are arson investigators, those who are assigned to the SPD’s special response team, and reserve officers for both the police and sheriff’s office.
“I don’t think we’re to the point yet where we have to have that conversation in Shreveport, but that is a growing concern nationally as you mentioned, of needing to possibly allow firefighters to arm and protect themselves.”
Fire Chief Scott Wolverton says firefighter do have bullet proof vests, and helmets that are primarily used for an active shooter situation.