Louisiana State Police to expand role on New Orleans highways _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Louisiana State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson

Motorists whipping along Interstate 10 in New Orleans may soon see a new pair of flashing lights in the rear-view mirror — those of a state trooper assigned to the city under a partnership with the New Orleans Police Department.

State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said the new patrols, which started Wednesday, will add the equivalent of one full-time officer to the city’s major thoroughfares. New Orleans is reimbursing the cost of the off-duty troopers working the detail to the tune of $200,000 a year.

Troopers will travel both interstates in the city as well as U.S. highways such as Chef Menteur. They are expected to focus on areas where accidents frequently occur.

“The additional manpower helps keep drivers safe and allows NOPD officers to focus on other crimes throughout the district,” NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said.

The new detail is the latest expansion of State Police presence in the city, where the NOPD is fighting to replenish its depleted ranks. Since March, state troopers also have patrolled the French Quarter and surrounding areas.

An additional quarter-cent sales tax in the French Quarter intended to pay for making the State Police presence permanent will appear on the Oct. 24 ballot.

Since March, Edmonson said, state troopers have answered 1,800 calls for service and made 490 arrests in the city.