Today is Mardi Gras. (Frenchy French for “Fat Tuesday.”) For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s the holiday we celebrate in the South, commemorating the day before Ash Wednesday – which marks the beginning of the 40 days and nights of the Lenten season. (Me, I’m planning on giving up taking any Liberal seriously. Should be cathartic.) It’s an excuse to laissez les bon temps roulez one last time before everybody has to behave themselves in the run-up to Easter. In Shreveport, as in most of the rest of Louisiana, we are treated to a series of parades and balls, staged by “Krewes” – essentially social clubs who’s purpose is to stage Mardis Gras events. The New Orleans parades are the stuff of legend, and a huge security headache. Shreveport’s parades…not so much. But this year’s Krewe of Gemini was not incident-free. Hence this story from 710KEEL.com:
A Shreveport police officer apparently lost her department-issued weapon while helping other officers chase down a suspect during Saturday night’s Krewe of Gemini parade. Officers were attempting to make an arrest in the 700 block of E. Kings Highway. The suspect led them on a foot chase, and an undercover officer — who was on-duty working a plain-clothes vice detail — helped chase him.
But after getting the suspect to the command post on E. Kings, the officer found that her department-issued handgun was not in her holster.
Police have been unable to locate the weapon. Contact them if you have any information that can help. Police Chief Willie Shaw has ordered an internal investigation to find out how this happened, and to determine whether any departmental policies were violated.
I happened to be at this parade on Saturday night, scoring my absent daughter some serious Mardis Gras swag. (Nothing says “Mardis Gras” like making an ass of yourself in order to grab 10¢ worth of beads or other trinkets and trash as you stand there in the cold waiting for the next float.) But like Sergeant Shultz, I saw nothing, at least as far as any trouble.
Keep in mind, these parades are huge affairs. This one started downtown, wended it’s way South along a riverfront parkway, turned West and went a couple of miles down a major thoroughfare, then turned down another four-lane highway to reach it’s terminal destination. The parade started at around 5PM and didn’t reach us until 8PM or so.
Imagine the tactical nightmare such an event presents. SPD handles the event in cooperation with the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s department. There’s a big, visible police presence on site – black & whites scattered along the route. Police cars, fire trucks, and emergency vehicles are peppered in-between the floats. And then there are the plainclothes cops that blend in with the crowds.
If you’ve never been to a Mardi Gras campaign, I recommend you add it to your bucket list. It’s a combination of goofy costumes, high school marching bands, floats, and one Hell of a street party. People line up a day in advance, bringing grilles, generators, portable refrigerators, and the like, making your average tailgate party look like a pauper’s party.
So I guess it should come as no surprise that the event attracts a criminal element. And I’m not gonna second-guess the local police, on how or why a plainclothes officer lost her service piece. I’m not even gonna freak out about a Glock 22 loose on the streets. I mean, you’ve got to figure somebody picked it up, and if they didn’t turn it in, odds are, they are up to no good, or at least have a bit o’ evil on their mind. Picking up a gun you find on the street is not the same thing as finding a dollar on the street. If you don’t turn it in, it’s likely you aren’t going to be counted as a member of the law-abiding public.
What’s weird to me, though, is that an officer – any officer, plainclothes or not – would simply lose their gun. A Glock 22 is no mouse gun. And presuming a plainclothes female cop will have to conceal her weapon, I’d think it would be even more difficult to lose the gun. It was in the high 40’s that night – I was wearing a parka and gloves, so it’s not like we’re talking about one of those Charlie’s Angels costuming conundrums. I could understand getting your gun taken away from you.
But losing it while you’re chasing a suspect? That’s kind of careless, don’t you think? So she lost her gun. And now somebody’s gonna get Hell over it. My money is on that gun staying AWOL until/unless it pops up in the commission of a crime. And then the outrage will start up all over again.
Frankly, I’m not that upset over the loss of a single gun. But I do think that if a private citizen is held to one legal standard for securing their firearms, we should expect no less from our law enforcement officials. Everybody makes mistakes. Let’s hope this one doesn’t end with the words “tragic death” in the epilogue.