NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A New Orleans lawmaker comes up with a plan to permanently fund dozens of state troopers patrolling the French Quarter. She has pre-filed a bill that would tap into uncollected lottery winnings.
With the New Orleans Police Department 500 officers short of what most say is needed, the State Police is a coveted force.
"I think it's important. The more we beef up officers in the French Quarter area, the more officers that can be deployed to other parts of the city," said Rep. Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans).
The 150 troopers who came in for Mardi Gras are credited with helping make the Carnival season safer. But though State Police still have a presence in New Orleans, regular French Quarter patrols are gone.
"What we talked about during Mardi Gras, we would leave for two weeks to put together a plan," said Col. Mike Edmonson.
Now Moreno has come up with a plan to tap into a portion of uncollected lottery winnings to help fund a permanent State Police presence.
"I'm going to file legislation to redirect a third of that funding over to State Police so that State Police could enhance patrols in the Quarter and help the city," Moreno said.
That could be up to $3 million a year, which could pay the salaries of nearly 40 troopers.
"I'm excited about anything legislators have in mind, but the bill has to go through a process and we've got to do something right now," Edmonson said.
Though few would argue that public safety is paramount, the state is facing a severe deficit, and Moreno fully expects pressure to put that money elsewhere.
"It's going to be difficult. They could have swept it into higher ed and try and make up $250 million in cuts," she said. "But with this amount of money - it is like putting a Band-Aid on a body that's already blown up."
Orleans D.A. Leon Cannizzaro is concerned about what he calls the state's lack of support for New Orleans' crime problem. Spokesman Chris Bowman put out a statement saying: "The D.A. is supportive of any measure that will bring additional law enforcement to New Orleans."
"I hope our New Orleans idea doesn't just get swept right into trying to fix the $1.6 billion problem," Moreno said.
The lottery money currently goes back into winnings, and not into the general fund. We called the lottery corporation and the governor's office for comment on the bill, but didn't hear back.