NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - State troopers are making their presence known throughout the French Quarter as thousands of visitors head into town to celebrate Carnival. The troopers are already making a difference, and they're also helping the NOPD protect other parts of the city.
From the balcony of Tropical Isle you can see people are already heading down to the Quarter. State troopers are in the crowd - some of them plainclothes officers - and they're working alongside the NOPD to keep everyone safe.
"I've said this from day one, we come here to work," said State Police Col. Nike Edmonson. "When I ask a trooper to be in a specific area, he's going to be there for 12 hours."
Forty-two troopers rolled into town last Friday with a specific intent.
"To me, it's about visibility," Edmonson said. "The public expects to see law enforcement if they're going to be in a certain area. They want to see us. On the other hand, the criminals don't want to see us, so wherever they see law enforcement, that's where they don't want to be."
In the past seven days, troopers have answered 79 calls for service, handed out two dozen traffic citations and made 44 arrests. They've also seized narcotics with a street value of $181,000.
"I 100 percent feel safe," said Jimmy Kzlausky from New York. "It's fun. Probably one of the most fun times I've had, but I definitely 100 percent feel safe."
Revelers strolling down Bourbon Street say they've seen the extra security and it sends a strong message.
"I think it's very good," said Susan Smith from Gonzalez. "I think there is a lot of state troopers. The local policeman have done a wonderful job, and you should not be afraid."
"I mean, just right now you can see them," said Huey Ferrell, marketing director for the Bourbon Heat nightclub. "I see at least 10 policeman right now within a two-block area."
Ferrell knows how quickly trouble can escalate to violence in the French Quarter, and he's happy about the increase in troopers.
"Everyone is going to start drinking early in the morning and go until late at night," Ferrell said. "Anything can escalate really fast, so having the police presence on Bourbon Street - it's great."
"They're going to certain areas and they're clapping for them," Edmonson said. "They're walking out and saying to come in. I told my troopers, when you see a businessperson, stay and talk to them and listen to them."
While state troopers are mainly helping the NOPD in the French Quarter, Edmondson says they're also answering calls across New Orleans.
"You know, we can leave from here," he said. "We can go to Carrollton. We can go towards the University [area]. We can move towards the river. We can go towards the lake. I think that speaks volumes that we can move a large amount of people during an emergency or call for service."
The NOPD will get even more help tomorrow when an additional 150 state troopers arrive.