Scheduling conflicts over public safety meeting causing concern for Alexandria residents

Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The City of Alexandria announced on Friday, October 15 that the Alexandria Police Department would host a public safety meeting on Tuesday, October 19 for the residents of the Garden District.

However, the issue for some residents is that the meeting falls at the same time that the city council will be meeting which means a handful of public officials cannot attend the meeting.

“When this was announced, we didn’t understand,” said Tom Spencer, the president of the Alexandria Garden District Foundation.

Spencer said he was blindsided when the City of Alexandria scheduled their residents to meet with just APD about crime concerns and public safety.

“Everyone needs to be in the conversation,” said Spencer. “Everyone needs to sit at the table. The Garden District residents don’t need any more safety tips.”

Spencer said that residents want to be able to speak with Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall on the efforts the City is taking to help prevent crimes from happening.

This isn’t the first time there’s been an issue with Garden District meetings either. At a meeting for residents earlier this year, the group was told that APD would be there, but law enforcement did not show up. Later, Mayor Hall explained that APD was called off, because the meeting was held at a property owned by District 4 Councilwoman Catherine Davidson, who is a political candidate.

“It was at a property that I bought, because I was unable to secure any public building,” said Davidson. “The administration said those buildings were closed due to COVID-19. I did not have that meeting. Tom Spencer and the Garden District had that meeting. I have a property that’s readily available and I don’t need permission to use it.”

News Channel 5 reached out to the City’s Special Projects Coordinator Jim Smilie about the timing of the upcoming safety meeting. In an email, Smilie shared that APD is hosting the meeting and that it is, “not a political meeting” adding that Mayor Hall isn’t scheduled to speak.

“We want to meet with everyone,” said Spencer. “There is zero political bias here, it’s about crime.”

Crime has been a major concern for Alexandria residents in 2021, with a record-breaking number of homicides and shootings.

Councilwoman Davidson said she will actually leave the city council meeting early so she can attend the public safety meeting.

“This is just quite unbelievable that it is scheduled during a city council meeting which has been published since January 1, so clearly they know there’s a city council meeting,” said Davidson. “The mayor isn’t going to attend, and I’m going to leave the meeting at 5:20 p.m.”

Davidson said she has gotten over a dozen calls from residents wondering if they should go to the meeting now. She still hopes close to 1,000 people from the Garden District will show up to express their concerns.

The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. at the Public Safety Complex at the police station on 1000 Bolton Avenue.

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