The State Police are back in New Orleans, and in strength.
Actually, they never really left, but starting Thursday, a contingent of 50 to 60 additional state troopers will be patrolling the French Quarter and surrounding environs through the end of 2015.
State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson and New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison announced the deployment Wednesday evening on the steps of the NOPD’s 8th District headquarters on Royal Street.
The trooper surge, which is funded with $2.5 million from the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, follows the deployment of 200 troopers to the city for the final days of the Mardi Gras season to help out the 40 or so state troopers who are always in the city and the badly undermanned New Orleans Police Department.
“I told you that we would not be gone for long,” Edmonson said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal had asked Edmonson to put together a plan to keep extra troopers in New Orleans. This uniformed contingent will complement the NOPD, and Edmonson stressed how visible the troopers will be.
Additional blue-uniformed troopers were sent to the city after a mass shooting on Bourbon Street in late June that left one woman dead and nine other people wounded. At any given time over the summer, about 100 troopers were present on the streets, Edmonson said. This time around, the exact number of troopers will fluctuate depending on the needs of the city, he said.
The number “will change based on the events, whether it’s French Quarter Fest, whether it’s Jazz Fest, whether it’s any festival in New Orleans,” he said. “You can expect to see the complement of state troopers and public safety officers that this chief and the city of New Orleans needs.”
Standing next to Edmonson, Harrison praised the commitment of additional resources to augment his department’s depleted ranks.
“This is a great day for the city of New Orleans, especially the French Quarter,” Harrison said. “The colonel and the State Police have delivered on a promise, and for that I want to say thank you.”
Edmonson said there also will be an additional presence of troopers on the highways in and around New Orleans.
In early February, State Police committed to staying in the city until at least mid-May. At that time the Convention and Visitors Bureau also committed $2.5 million to cover overtime costs related to this contingent. Edmonson said some of that money was used to pay overtime to troopers during Mardi Gras, but he said he’s going to try to make the money last “well into the summer.”
“Our hotel community is delighted to provide complimentary accommodations for our fine state troopers,” CVB President and CEO Stephen Perry said in a written statement. “It is such a pleasure to see the level of cooperation between Col. Edmonson and Chief Harrison, with the net winners being the city’s largest economy.”