Labor Day will come and go this weekend, but State Police will remain in New Orleans.
A task force of troopers, deployed to New Orleans since early July to bolster the New Orleans Police Department’s depleted ranks, will remain in town through November and longer, if necessary, State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said Thursday.
“State Police is not leaving the city of New Orleans,” Edmonson said at a news conference with interim NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Troopers were dispatched to the city after a mass shooting on Bourbon Street in the early morning of June 29 left one woman dead and nine people injured.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked for 100 state troopers to be assigned to patrol the city on a permanent basis. Edmonson, however, said he could not spare that many troopers and, instead, offered to assign 50 to help patrol the city.
The troopers were supposed to be pulled out of the city after Labor Day weekend but will continue the patrols for now at the request of the city and the NOPD.
Edmonson said State Police will conduct a “phased withdrawal” from the city as November approaches but that the need for troopers to continue patrolling in New Orleans will be evaluated regularly.
He said a total of 100 troopers have been deployed at one time or another as part of the task force, largely to patrol the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods with a “highly visible and proactive presence.”
The NOPD’s ranks have thinned because of high attrition and a hiring freeze during the past few years. The force today, of about 1,100 officers, is about 30 percent smaller than it was four years ago.
Edmonson said troopers have responded to more than 1,600 calls for service and made more than 500 arrests during their deployment.
Troopers have seized more than $800,000 in illegal narcotics, nearly $900,000 in narcotics-related currency and 45 illegally possessed firearms. They also have recovered 27 stolen vehicles and issued more than 2,000 citations for traffic violations.
Although Edmonson ticked off the statistics that he said showed the New Orleans assignment has been successful, there was one well-publicized complaint that troopers used excessive force during a traffic stop.
Musician Shamarr Allen claimed he was roughed up during a traffic stop about 1:30 a.m. July 23 in the Lower 9th Ward.
Edmonson later said the stop, recorded by a camera mounted on a dashboard of a State Police cruiser, was handled appropriately, and Allen never filed a formal complaint with the agency.
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