A Band-Aid Solution
The continued presence of Louisiana State Police is buying NOPD more time to bolster French Quarter security.
As we head into convention season, the lack of permanent security in the French Quarter has been reverberating all over the news. Multiple Band-Aid solutions were being offered to help quell the crime in the city’s major tourist hot spots, as the Louisiana State Police (LSP) were preparing to withdraw their services.
Tempering speculations on whom and how security would be managed was the recent announcement by LSP that they will extend their stay to maintain a high security presence throughout the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods until November.
Originally, the 100 State Troopers, who were deployed to New Orleans in response to the Bourbon Street shooting in late June that left one person dead and nine injured, were scheduled to leave after the Labor Day long weekend.
In light of the depleted New Orleans Police Department; the Mayor’s office, NOPD and French Quarter residences and businesses were scrambling to find a permanent solution to the much needed security presence on the street – especially as the city plays host to major events and conventions.
Around the time that the State Troopers were scheduled to leave, the annual six-day festivities of Southern Decadence were in full swing – drawing crowds that at times swelled to 300,000 in a few block radius surrounding St. Ann and Bourbon Streets. As Southern Decadence finished up, around 20,000 delegates flowed in for the National Baptist Convention. Returning to New Orleans for the first time since 2004, the National Baptist Convention was expected to bring in over $20 million to the city during their five-day stay.
The statistics released by the LSP state that from late June until the end of August, State Troopers in the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods responded to more than 1,600 calls for service, made 500 arrests, seized nearly $1 million in illegal narcotics, $900,000 in suspected drug money and 45 illegal firearms.
This just reiterates that a drastic overhaul needs to happen – whether it is in the guise of off-duty police officers providing an after-hour security force, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s proposed unarmed civilian patrol, or a rapid increase in NOPD’s new recruits.
For the time being though, the debate continues; and although not a permanent solution, the State Troopers are a welcomed one – buying more time for governing bodies to find a sustainable and effective security force ahead of festival season.