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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Since 1957, the Mississippi River Bridge in New Orleans, now called the Crescent City Connection, has been patrolled by its own police department.

That changed Monday as the department of 22 officers officially joined the Louisiana Department of Public Safety.

The move comes as part of a new management structure on the bridge mandated by the state legislature.

Chief Peter Maggiore says officers will now concentrate more on the bridge and less on the 14 miles of expressway leading up to the spans.

'When we switch over to the Department of Pubic Safety we'll focus more on our primary area of responsibility, which is the bridge,' said Maggiore.

Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson wants the bridge police to be more proactive.

'The whole Tchoupitoulas exit, we've been working closely with DOTD engineers and administrators to do everything we can to flow traffic trough there,' said Edmonson.

Last month, bridge police attended special training sessions at the state police academy in Baton Rouge.

'The resources are unbelievable,' said Maggiore. 'The training that we received so far is beyond any other training that we've received.'

Edmonson said bridge police will now be more visible.

'We'll be staging them. We'll be very visible. That's a big thing to me and the state police and public safety is to be visible.'

Bridge police will complete their switch over on Jan. 1 at midnight. That's when they'll park their old Crescent City Connection police cars, change into their new uniforms and get behind the wheel of their new Department of Public Safety patrol cars.

'Can't wait,' said Maggiore. 'I can't wait. It can't come soon enough in my opinion.'

Bridge police emergency operators are now working side by side with the state police.

If you have any type of emergency on the Crescent City Connection, you are now asked to call *LSP.

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