U.S. Sen. David Vitter took another swing at Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Wednesday, telling him to focus on New Orleans’ “horrendous” murder rate instead of the city’s Confederate monuments.
The spat began over the weekend when Vitter, who is running for governor, blasted the mayor’s leadership and the New Orleans Police Department over the city’s crime problems, endorsing the idea of creating a new State Police troop just for the city.
Landrieu fired back on Saturday, citing a 43-year low in the number of murders and accusing Vitter of being “wholly ineffective” at providing federal resources to local agencies trying to fight crime.
In a short letter to the mayor released by Vitter’s campaign on Wednesday, he responded, “New Orleans’ horrendous murder rate is not, primarily, the federal government’s responsibility; it’s yours.”
He added, “The federal taxpayer has given New Orleans more aid per capita in the last 10 years than to any other city in history because of Katrina, including major and unprecedented law enforcement funding.”
He then took a jab at the mayor’s call for removing four Confederate and Reconstruction-era monuments around town: “For goodness sake, focus on murders not monuments.”
Landrieu hit back a few hours later, pointing out that New Orleans has already arranged to have extra state troopers in the city, paid for by the tourism industry. “That’s old news,” he said.
He also said the federal COPS program, which was created in the 1990s to direct money toward local law enforcement, has been cut by 88 percent, “straining local police resources.”
“We recognize that public safety is still a problem,” he continued. “But national security, homeland security and public safety is everybody’s responsibility at all levels. So, I’m very thankful that Sen. Vitter recognizes that he’s got a responsibility in that.”
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.