Citizens worry about safety after extra state trooper patrols end

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 10:55 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 10 at 11:30 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Dozens of troopers will stay posted here in New Orleans through Labor Day to help the New Orleans Police Department patrol the city.

Concerned residents and business owners showed up Thursday night to a monthly 8th District Crime meeting worried about long-term police presence. In response to that concern, one citizen's group is taking matters into its own hands.

"You're crapping on your own officers and that's why they're leaving," said one business owner speaking about city leadership at the NOPD's 8th District monthly NONPAAC meeting.

It is not a secret. The NOPD is losing officers, faster then they're being replaced. Residents and business owners at Thursday night's meeting say the Bourbon Street shooting, assaults in the Marigny and other crime have become too much.

"People are frightened about being attacked on the street, being robbed with a gun. Those are things that make people want to stay at home," said Bob Simms with the French Quarter Management District (FQMD) Security Task Force.

The state entity made up of local business and residential leaders is working on a pilot program to increase security.

"What we need now is for the businesses and residences to voluntarily agree that they want to fund this," said Simms.

Three areas in the French Quarter could soon see off-duty police patrols: Bourbon Street, the business section of Royal and Chartres Streets and residential blocks near Saint Ann Street and Esplanade Avenue.

The FQMD Security Task Force says the goal is to have six to 12 off-duty police officers in those three pilot areas during peak times, which would be between about 7 p.m. and 3 a.m.

"Remember this isn't a permanent fix. This is a temporary measure," said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson addressing a ballroom filled with dozens of state troopers inside the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel.

In light of this month's deadly Bourbon Street shooting and Mayor Mitch Landrieu's request for more boots on the ground, 50 troopers are being stationed in New Orleans through Labor Day.

"The conversation I had with Governor Jindal since the day and morning of the shooting on Bourbon Street was to lean forward and to be proactive," Edmonson said.

They got a welcome Thursday afternoon from both NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas and Edmonson.

Serpas confirms trooper patrols will begin in the 8th District and then spread to neighborhoods like Treme, the Bywater, 9th Ward, Uptown or where ever extra manpower is needed.

Edmonson said the extra troopers are being funded by his agency's budget. Landrieu initially requested 100 additional, permanent troopers to New Orleans. However, LSP says it doesn't have the resources to support such an endeavor.

"I could not sustain 100 deployment to the city right now. I just simply could not do that without affecting some other part of the state," Edmonson said.

Bringing in additional troopers is a move residents applaud. Simms realizes it won't solve a bigger challenge -- not enough permanent officers on the street.

"We see the number of officers reducing every month almost and we recognize the city is having a hard time recruiting people. We felt we need to supplement that," said Simms.

The FQMD Security Task Force wants people to sign up for a six-month commitment to its pilot program. Simms said weekly proposed fees could be $50 for residents and $200 for businesses.

Simms says the goal is to get these extra patrols in the French Quarter by the end of the summer.

 

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