U.S. Attorney, Caddo Sheriff, Shreveport Police, Caddo School Board Join Together to Debut New Tool Teaching Firearm Safety to Students in the Western District
New demonstration trailer housed in Caddo Parish
SHREVEPORT, La. –United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley joined by Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator, Shreveport Police Chief Willie Shaw and Caddo Parish School Board Superintendent Dr. Theodis Lamar Goree, Jr., debuted the newest tool available to law enforcement to teach firearm safety to children in the Western District of Louisiana.
Students at Werner Park Academy were the first to see the Western District’s new firearm safety trailer in operation today. The trailer is available for use as part of the Louisiana Law Enforcement Gun Safety Program to teach firearm safety to children at area schools. Since its inception in June of 2013, the program has reached approximately 22,100 children.
Until last month, there was only one safety trailer available for use statewide. Now there is a trailer in each of the three federal judicial districts in Louisiana - Western, Middle and Eastern. After Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator agreed to provide space for the training trailer, the Western District was able to launch its program. The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office now houses the trailer, which is available for law enforcement agencies in the District to use. Forty-two of the state’s 64 parishes are in the Western District.
The Louisiana Law Enforcement for Gun Safety Program was created in response to the alarmingly high rate of accidental firearm injuries and deaths among children in Louisiana. The program uses certified law enforcement officers to teach parents and children about gun safety through an interactive presentation involving live demonstrations. The program demonstrates the dangers of firearms and tests students’ knowledge of gun safety. The instructors show students various handguns and ask them if the weapons are real or toys. The students in many cases are unable to distinguish between real or toy guns because many toy guns look, feel and weigh the same as real ones. At the end of the program, students are shown the destructive capacity of guns by watching a pistol fire a bullet into a watermelon inside of a protective enclosure. Students are instructed that weapons must be handled safely and with adult supervision.
The program aims to identify the hazards of unsecured firearms, teach individuals how to secure firearms, identify distinguishing characteristics between real and toy guns, and illustrate the destructive force of firearms through the use of the demonstration trailer. Presentations are conducted at schools, camps and community events.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is proud help usher in the next step of this program,” Finley said. “We will now be able to reach even more schools and students using this new trailer. Children’s safety in the Western District of Louisiana is of the utmost concern for this office. The Gun Safety Program helps educate students on how to react when finding a gun. I would like to thank all law enforcement who have joined this effort to keep children safe. This program will save lives.”
“The Caddo Sheriff’s Office looks forward to making the Louisiana Law Enforcement for Gun Safety Program available to the citizens of Caddo Parish,” said Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator. “The accidental injury or death of a child due to firearms is a terrible tragedy and one we hope to prevent by educating children and their parents about the safe handling and storage of weapons. We’ve been successful with presenting this message to elementary-age students at Sheriff’s Safety Town and are excited to have a tool to now reach out to older children and adults.”
“Having seen firsthand the tragic results of accidental firearm injuries, we are well aware of the critical need to teach our children about gun safety and this unique, interactive educational program is the perfect opportunity to partner with other law enforcement entities in a proactive effort to keep our kids safe,” said Shreveport Police Chief Willie Shaw.
“Each day in Caddo Parish Public Schools we work to better students not only academically, but to ensure their safety and security and provide life skills needed to foster vibrant community members,” said Caddo Parish Superintendent Dr. Theodis Lamar Goree, Jr. “This program is a powerful tool to educate our students on the dangers of firearms and will translate into positive results for our youth. We are grateful for this partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office as well as the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office and Shreveport Police, and their desire to begin this program right here at Werner Park Elementary.”
The program is available for use by all law enforcement agencies in Louisiana through the endorsements of the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Western, Middle and Eastern districts, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, Baton Rouge City Constable’s Office, Louisiana Department of Corrections, Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, Louisiana City Marshals and City Constables Association, Louisiana District Attorneys Association, Louisiana State Police, and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Community Coordinator Mike Campbell is conducting the training and is assisting with the operation of the program in conjunction with the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office. As LECC, Campbell acts as a liaison between the U.S. Attorney=s Office and local, state, and federal law enforcement. He assists with grants, coordinates and provides law enforcement training, and assists law enforcement agencies with special and community needs.
For more information about the firearms safety program, contact Mike Campbell at the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 318-676-3600 or Mike Gregory at the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office at 318-681-1106.