State Police, new NOPD chief discuss plan for French Quarter security

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - One of the first challenges for NOPD interim Chief Michael Harrison will involve how to keep the French Quarter safe. State Police Col. Mike Edmonson says he met with Harrison Tuesday about the impending departure of state troopers.

Less than 48 hours into his new position, Michael Harrison is already being tasked with a big challenge. Edmonson explains, "I told him take the next couple of days, but I need a plan from him. I need an idea of what his expectations are for the Louisiana State Police, what are some of his wants and needs."

In a week and a half, the 50 state troopers brought in to help the NOPD patrol the city will be gone. But Edmonson says he hopes to keep a few additional bodies here for the next couple of months. "I assured him we're not going to just up and leave on Labor Day," said Edmonson.

In the two months they've been here, troopers have taken a proactive approach to patrolling, making over 400 arrests, seizing $360,000 worth of drugs and taking 38 illegal weapons off the streets. Tuesday, we watched as two troopers walking on Bourbon Street asked a suspicious looking vehicle to pull over. They ended up conducting a field sobriety test after finding an open bottle of beer in the truck, and wrote the driver a citation. Edmonson says of the proactive approach, "Certainly my guys here come with a different mindset, because it's about making a difference."

That's something Harrison says he's serious about too. At a Monday night community meeting, Harrison said, "We as a department are fully committed to making every neighborhood in New Orleans, a safe neighborhood."

To that end, Harrison spent a considerable amount of time with Edmonson on Tuesday, discussing patrols in the city. After the meeting, the colonel says he firmly believes Michael Harrison is the right man to lead the department and to raise morale through his down-to-earth approach. "His personality is a lot like mine, his interactions with his police officers. I watched it today as we met, he went up to New Orleans police officers and shook their hand," Edmonson recalled.

In the coming days, Edmonson says he, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and  Harrison will have a firm plan in place on how to keep the city safe. He says it's a task he believes the NOPD can accomplish.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.