SHREVEPORT La. -- Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator and City Councilman Grayson Boucher say they confirmed that Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins pulled city police resources out of assisting with security for President Trump's rally for GOP gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone.
And they say it left the U.S. Secret Service in a lurch.
Boucher said after an SPD officer informed him on Wednesday morning, he sought confirmation outside the SPD.
"I was told by several members of law enforcement that this was true. That at about four o'clock yesterday afternoon, the mayor contacted the Secret Service and said we would no longer be participating," Boucher said.
Prator said his call came from Louisiana State Police.
"Yesterday evening I was notified by the state police. They asked for our assistance. They had been counting on some Shreveport Police Department units. And they notified me that those units were no longer available. Shreveport was pulling its resources," Prator said.
Prator says he confirmed that information from SPD Chief Ben Raymond. He says his office will now provide more personnel in Shreveport's absence.
He says the Caddo Parish Sheriffs Office was already providing "specialty teams," such as one to secure the river by the Century Link Center.
Shreveport police officers received notifications Tuesday evening. One text message shared with KTBS was from an officer that came from an SPD supervisor.
It said, "We have been advised to stand down assisting with the Trump motorcade Thursday. LSP (Louisiana State Patrol) will be taking over. The mayor has advised he does not want SPD or SFD involved."
Prator says he was surprised at the news.
He's been the head of the SPD, and then the CPSO for almost 30 years, and said, “I know at least three different presidents that have visited while I've been in charge of things. And it didn't matter what their party affiliation is or anything. You get the job done. That's our commander in chief. And we're going to make sure nothing happens to him."
"My biggest concern with this is we've been planning this for three weeks," Boucher said. "The Shreveport Police Department and Shreveport Fire Department are integral parts of this. I was very concerned that we were pulling out at the 23rd hour without any notice."
Boucher and Prator explained that important contingency plans for a presidential visit are the reason mutual aid among local agencies is needed.
What if something happened to the president and he needed to be rushed to the trauma one hospital in Shreveport? What if something's going on at Barksdale Air Force Base and he needs a runway in Shreveport? In those cases, Boucher said, the route has to be cleared and secured.
Fellow City Councilman John Nickelson agrees. He sent a letter to Mayor Perkins, saying in part, "When it comes to protecting the office of the presidency, we are not Republicans or Democrats -- we are all Americans. President Trump is our Commander-in-Chief. He is entitled to our respect, and politics should never compromise his personal safety."
Perkins replied in his own letter to council members, saying "I am alarmed that certain members of the city council are politicizing the city's support of the president's visit to Bossier City. Rather than making this a partisan issue, I implore these members to recognize our legal obligations, especially since the letter sent to me regarding this matter was penned by Councilman John Nickelson, an attorney."
Perkins said Shreveport is providing some first responders for the rally, but he would not specify. He said the resources Shreveport can provide are limited by state and city law, since the Trump visit is political -- not in his official capacity as President.
But Boucher, a Republican, said local first responders were utilized for past political visits for Democrats. He says as an EMT, he stayed in an adjoining hotel room for a visit from Vice President Al Gore in case emergency medical help was needed.
"It was one of the highlights of my career, even though I didn't support the Vice President personally," Boucher says.
Boucher said local first responders were also utilized for a visit from former first lady Michelle Obama. Her trip and Gore's were campaign style events, Boucher said.
Perkins, a Democrat, says his move is not political. He also notes that the Trump rally is in Bossier City -- not Shreveport.
Boucher says that shouldn't matter.
"The Century Link Center is about a hundred yards from Shreveport. We have to be prepared," Boucher said.