The presence of additional Louisiana state troopers in New Orleans this summer has been a welcome development after a June 29 French Quarter shooting that killed a Hammond woman and injured nine others.
After the shooting, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked the state to send 100 troopers to patrol the city long term. State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson sent additional troopers to New Orleans through Labor Day.
We commend Edmonson and the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal for making these troopers available to New Orleans. Their arrival was a reminder that the security of New Orleans — and its viability as an international tourist destination — is a concern not only for New Orleans, but Louisiana as a whole.
We appreciate the sacrifices made by these troopers during this summer’s heightened deployment in New Orleans. Their visibility in the city, especially in the Quarter, has offered assurance to visitors and residents in the wake of a terrible tragedy.
As we have said before, though, the primary responsibility for public safety in New Orleans should always rest with local law enforcement authorities. Bourbon Street bar owners recently agreed to pay for extra patrols by off-duty New Orleans Police Department officers. Their decision is a healthy acknowledgment that crime-fighting must usually begin at the grassroots level.
Chronic understaffing in the NOPD poses a broader challenge to the city’s security. Police manpower has declined more than 25 percent since a hiring freeze took effect nearly four years ago. Police officials launched a big recruiting campaign last year, but results have been meager.
Putting more officers on the street can’t be the only answer to crime. We’re glad that Landrieu’s administration has also collaborated with social service agencies and other stakeholders to stop the culture of violence that drives so much criminal activity.
But as football and convention season gears up this autumn, New Orleans needs a vigorous police presence more than ever. The state’s help on that front should be a bridge, not a permanent solution.