Dozens of New Orleans-area state troopers assigned to help patrol the city after a mass shooting on Bourbon Street this summer will return to their regular duties after the coming weekend.
The State Police assistance will end Sunday night, said Trooper Melissa Matey, a Troop B spokeswoman.
The move will mean fewer law enforcement officers on the streets but should not be a cause for alarm, State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said.
“The landscape is changing. You’ll see us in different roles, but that blue uniform is certainly not leaving the city of New Orleans,” he said. “My message to the criminals out there: Please don’t mistake this as (meaning) that we’re not there any longer, because I can assure you the eyes and ears are still there.”
About 100 troopers from Troop B who usually work in the New Orleans area in roles beyond routine patrols were redeployed to the streets to boost manpower in a city where the Police Department’s numbers continue to dwindle, despite an ongoing recruitment campaign.
City and state officials announced the redeployment after the June 29 shooting on Bourbon Street that killed one person and wounded nine others.
They also cautioned that it would not be an indefinite arrangement, despite extending it past Labor Day weekend, when the extra patrols originally were supposed to end.
Mike Tilbury, a French Quarter resident, has started an online petition to keep the troopers in the Quarter. As of Monday evening, 671 people had signed the petition.
Tilbury said he and his neighbors have concerns about the level of security in the neighborhood and saw a difference with the state troopers’ presence.
“One of the biggest things they did is they walked. They walked the beat every day,” he said. “As much as the NOPD is trying to rebuild the police force, they’re not close to getting it to where it should be. So, in the interim, we need help. I think the troopers should stay.”
Weeks after the shooting, city officials announced plans to create a “Nola Patrol,” a group of 50 civilians who could handle some duties that police officers normally do, such as traffic control and other non-emergency issues in the Quarter.
French Quarter business owners also devised plans to pool their money to hire off-duty officers to help patrol Bourbon Street.
“Presence is what we want, but we will still have a gap,” Tilbury said, noting that Nola Patrol has yet to hit the streets. “We’re going to have a gap of three or four months without the level of security that I think we really need that the troopers have been providing.”
Since being redeployed to patrol the city, State Police have made about 800 arrests and assisted the NOPD on about 5,000 calls, Matey said.
Tilbury said he plans to send his petition to city, state and State Police officials, but the effort likely will be for naught.
Tyler Gamble, an NOPD spokesman, confirmed that the department had not requested another extension of the State Police presence.
NOPD leaders are meeting with State Police this week to finalize the withdrawal and discuss future instances where troopers will be asked to help local law enforcement, Gamble said.
“Every major event in the city, we’ll be there in the numbers you saw and even larger,” Edmonson said. “We’ll do so with any major event going forward, from Thanksgiving into Christmas, New Year’s and the bowl season and, of course, Mardi Gras.
“If they need us back again in any capacity, we’re going to be there.”
Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.