MINDEN, La. -- For the second time this year, the special session set by the Minden City Council proved to be in vain Thursday.
Due to the lack of quorum the session was canceled shortly after the 10 a.m. meeting start time. The cancellation came on the heels of no shows by the council’s three black members, leaving only two voting members of the council in attendance. Those two members are white.
The open-to-the-public session at City Hall was set to address a potential police department new-hire. Already suffering from a lack of manpower, the Minden Police Department remains in a struggle -- caught in a rough spot between the public, personnel woes and possibly the City Council.
“Public safety is a concern. We are short on officers,” Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper told KTBS during a June 4 interview.
The department has been under heavy scrutiny since May 20, after two of its white police officers were accused of making racist Facebook posts aimed at blacks and Hispanics.
Days after the posts began circulating, both officers were placed on paid administrative leave after refusing to resign, according to Cropper. On June 3, the five-member city council voted unanimously to terminate one of the two officers, following a 61–minute executive session.
As of early June, three other employees of the department were listed as out for personal reasons, including medical and bereavement.
Even before the public scrutiny began, the city’s lone police department had been operating below its employment maximum of its roughly two dozen allotment.
“I would like to publicly apologize to the citizens, because our chief is working hard to try to get us applicants,” Gardner said upon canceling the session.