Sheriff program to keep shoppers safe

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Deputy Kacy Gunn of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office provides increased visibility at a local Bossier City business parking lot as part of the BSO’s “Sheriff’s Safe Shopper Program” aimed at keeping shoppers safe this holiday season.

Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington will deploy a special holiday safety program at midnight on Thanksgiving and continue through the end of the year aimed at keeping shoppers safe and secure at busy shopping centers this holiday season.

Dubbed “Sheriff’s Safe Shopper Program,” the initiative will augment the Armed Robbery Task Force implemented by the Bossier Sheriff’s Office and Bossier City Police Department over the holiday shopping period to provide additional safety and security throughout Bossier Parish and Bossier City.

“During this time of year, we realize the need for extra patrols and law enforcement presence at businesses and shopping areas,” said Sheriff Whittington. “With Sheriff’s Safe Shopper Program, our deputies will focus on areas and parking lots with high shopper presence, providing safety and security to shoppers and prevent vehicle break-ins. We will have increased visibility in busy shopping areas to assist shoppers and deter criminal activity.”

The program will be conducted in coordination with the Armed Robbery Task Force with the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office and Bossier City Police Department. While the Sheriff’s Safe Shopper Program concentrates on the safety of shoppers in parking lots and other busy areas, the Armed Robbery Task Force focuses on protecting stores, businesses, gas stations and areas with high incidents or probability of robbery.

The initiative is rolling out at the same time as a dozen new black Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs.

They will serve as the first set of replacements for the Ford Crown Victoria that has been the mainstay for Bossier Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicles for years

“A robust maintenance plan allowed us to extend the life of the Crown Vics and not purchase new vehicles in order to save taxpayer monies,” Whittington said. “However, like so many other law enforcement agencies, we were faced with a decision to replace the Crown Vic that we’ve had for so long,” he said.

The last Ford Crown Victoria was built in 2011, and some of the patrol vehicles with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office have as many as 150,000 miles on them.

“We researched a number of replacement vehicles and determined the Tahoe was the best value for our deputies, providing consistent reliability, long-term usage and extra crash protection,” Whittingon said. The Tahoes also have a low maintenance cost and high resale value, and the Sheriff’s Office was able to purchase the vehicles under state contract.

Whittington said a bonus of the Tahoe is its size, which provides ample room for deputies who use patrol vehicles as their offices, with a laptop, safety equipment and emergency gear.

Two of the Tahoes have been outfitted for the K-9 deputies, and the roomer vehicle will allow the deputies to transport arrestees to corrections facilities in their same vehicle; before, there was only room for the deputy, his dog and equipment, and the deputies would have to call in another patrol vehicle for transport.

These dozen black Tahoes will be the first of patrol vehicles that the Bossier Sheriff’s Office will eventually phase in to replace older model and high-mileage Crown Vics over the next three to five years.

The Tahoes will also have the new Sheriff’s logo that has larger lettering which is easier to read and reflective for better nighttime viewing. Each vehicle will also be displayed with the words “Courteous, Professional and Responsive” which is a core of the mission statement for the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.

“These words will serve as a daily reminder to our deputies and the people we serve as to how we carry out our duties, all in a courteous manner, to maintain a high level of professionalism and to respond appropriately,” said Sheriff Whittington.