Charlie Caldwell was appointed as Shreveport City Marshal on May 1, 2008,– becoming the first African-American City Marshal in Louisiana. He was elected to a six-year term in the fall of 2008, which began January 1, 2009. Since then Caldwell has erected a City Marshal flag in front of the Shreveport City Court building, purchased a high dollar Chevrolet Camaro for his official parade car, and set up a virtual in house travel agency.
Since January 1, 2009 total travel, registration and lodging expenses for Caldwell and his staff exceed $110,000. These expenses are paid from the discretionary funds paid to the Marshal’s office from fines collected at the Shreveport City Court. Although the Marshal’s office is not funded by the City of Shreveport, it’s operations are subject to review by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
Caldwell and his deputies have taken a virtual cook’s tour of Louisiana,– going to Opelousas, Rustin, Lafayette, Marksville, Alexandria, West Monroe, New Orleans, Gonzalez, Monroe, Baton Rouge and even Bossier City. The out of state junkets have been to Tucson (Arizona), Destin (Florida), Grapevine (Texas), and now Cambridge (Massachusetts).
Caldwell’s troops have received instructions on a wide range of topics at these seminars,– such as Training Alert High Risk Warrant Operations, Emergency Preparedness Infrastructure Training, Taser School, Officer Survival Training, Highway Interdiction and Drug Asset Forfeiture, and Criminal Law. Caldwell has also paid for a leadership skills conference and to attend the Louisiana Black Caucus in Baton Rouge. The expenses for these courses were relatively nominal– less than $5,400.
The high dollar expenses were just that:
- March 2009 National Constables Association in Tucson Arizona for Caldwell and six deputies,– $ 13,126.69.
- April 2009 the Louisiana City Marshal’s Association in Baton Rouge for Caldwell and 11 deputies,–$6,890.72 .
- June 2009, Nuts and Bolts seminar in Destin Florida for Caldwell and four deputies, – $11,272.89.
- March 2010, National Constable’s Association in Grapevine Texas for Caldwell and eight deputes,–$11,792.70.
- April 2010, Louisiana City Marshal’s Association in Monroe for Caldwell and eight deputies,– $ 2,941.00
- June 2010, Nuts and Bolts seminar in Destin Florida for Caldwell and seven deputies,–$ 20,535.59.
- March 2011, National Constable’s Association for Caldwell and 23 staff persons, (which included a hotel lodging cost of $1,884.26),– $7,994.26. This convention was held in Shreveport,– at the Hilton Hotel and Convention Center.
- June, 2011, Nuts and Bolts Seminar in Destin Florida for Caldwell and four deputies,– $18,586.79.
Collectively, these high dollar junkets exceeded $93,140.64 in total costs to the Marshal’s office.
The 5-Star Award for Caldwell’s spending largesse is his July attendance at the Harvard’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program in Cambridge Ma. The public records request reflects expenses (incurred as of July 26, 2011) of $12,041.68, with more charges likely to be received in August; these expenses are solely for Caldwell. This program is designed to help “seasoned public officials meet the changing needs of their constituents and communities…”
Caldwell’s term ends December 2014, and it’s expected that he will have substantial opposition in a reelection bid. Some politicians question if he will be office by his term’s end, and many observers doubt Caldwell’s tenure will extend to a second term. Unless there is a wholesale change in policy, one can expect the cash register kaching to continue during Caldwell’s service as Shreveport’s city marshal.
by John Settle