After Monday, New Orleans Will Be On Its Own

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has received another request from New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu to establish a permanent state police presence in the city of New Orleans, just days before a contingent of 40 state officers are scheduled to vacate their duties in the city, reports The New Orleans Advocate.

The state troopers being recalled from the city had been assigned to assist with the extra responsibilities that celebrations surrounding the Sugar Bowl and New Year’s Eve had created, which would have otherwise overtaxed the short-handed New Orleans police department.

The ongoing arrangement between state and local government was only supposed to be a temporary fix and had only been established last July, when a shooting on Bourbon Street in the city’s French Quarter resulted in nine injuries and one fatality. State officers were again assigned to New Orleans in November to help maintain order during the Bayou Classic, while others have worked more steadily with local officers at various posts throughout the city.

While Governor Jindal was willing to help New Orleans, recognizing the importance of the city to the state’s economy, bringing in $409 million in revenue from Superdome taxes, retail sales, and hotel stays, he has also stated that to continue to support New Orleans so steadily will leave the rest of the state unfairly short staffed.

The greatest issue facing both the state and local governments is manpower. The State Police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, stated in his recommendation to the governor that, while the city of New Orleans has compliment of 1,100 sworn officers currently on payroll, the officers employed by the state police, including himself, totals less than 950 men and women.

“Keep in mind that I love the city of New Orleans. I go there all the time. My family is there,” Edmonson said. “I want to do everything I can to make the city safe. That’s why I think it’s important that we continue this dialogue, to give these resources to the city of New Orleans so that they can be successful.”

While it is essential that the city of New Orleans works to improve its police manpower situation, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison met with Col. Edmonson to discuss the possibility of maintaining some further cooperation, according to The Times-Picayune. The immediate concern for the city is the period between now and Mardi Gras, when the next contingent of state officers will be returned to New Orleans.

Others are more critical of the mayor’s pleas for help, even those within the New Orleans police department, itself. Capt. Michael Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, which is the city’s police union, recognizes this situation as a failure on the mayor’s part, citing the low manpower situation and a poor compensation package for officers as elements of the same problem.

“It’s unrealistic to expect the state to continually use their resources when the city is responsible for itself. I’m sure every other city would like state police. They are not entitled to it, and neither are we.”

An example of the issues facing other parts of the state, due to this lack of manpower, may be evident in Pearl River, where that mayor, James Lavigne, has been indicted on criminal charges.