Tourism industry guarantees millions for State Police presence

Tourism industry guarantees millions for State Police presence

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - More and more, an area where tourists count on being safe is just the opposite. So now the tourism industry has stepped up in a big way to ensure that New Orleans police officers have additional law enforcement help in the French Quarter and downtown.

"And on behalf of the industry, the Convention and Visitors Bureau has guaranteed $2.5 million for the Louisiana State Police for overtime so they can do the most effective deployment here and stay in the city through Mardi Gras and stay through May,” said Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Big conventions are planned in coming months and spring festivals always draw thousands of visitors to New Orleans. When violent crime increased during the summer of 2014, state troopers were brought in, but funding was an issue.

"As you saw this summer, when a trooper worked an 80-hour work week, when that was over, I just sent them home. Now we'll be able to keep them here a little bit longer,” said State Police Col. Mike Edmondson.

The new agreement reached between Edmondson and the tourism industry came together with the help of House Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger and a state lawmaker from Jefferson Parish.

"Everybody in our community will benefit from this sort of partnership,” said Leger.

"We will be donating hotel rooms to the State Police so that we can actually house them here in New Orleans as they take on their additional duties,” said Robert Bray with the Marriott Hotel and the New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association.

The terms of the agreement will be spelled out in a letter of understanding.

"And Col. Edmondson's team is going to bill us directly," Perry said. "That is going to keep it clean, it's going to keep it simple.”

"Get used to this uniform, because you're going to continue to see it in the city of New Orleans,” Edmondson said.

The tourism industry's commitment comes at a time when global headlines about crime in the French Quarter are resonating and prompting safety questions from tourists and convention planners.

"They're the normal questions that citizens ask when they travel when they have conventions in a place. It's a part of life in a big city,” said Perry.

So there is a continued commitment to keep the so-called “out of the box” thinking going in furtherance of providing more law enforcement protection.

"I think the state would make a smart investment by supporting public safety in the city of New Orleans. It drives so much of our economy,” said Leger.

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