NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana State Police plan to have a big presence in the French Quarter for the Essence Festival and Fourth of July weekend.
State Police Commander Col. Mike Edmondson said Wednesday that he is sending in another 20 State Police officers to compliment the dozens of state troopers already assigned to the French Quarter and downtown.
"You're probably looking at around 60, and again that's going to fluctuate," Edmonson said. "It could be 10 more than that, it could be 10 less, depending on the time. It's a 24 hour operation," Col. Edmondson stated.
Every year, the Essence Music and Empowerment Festival acts as a huge people magnet; it helps to fill hotels and restaurants.
"Fourth of July weekend is a busy weekend. We're at above 90 percent hotel occupancy for this weekend. Last year, we hosted more than 500,000 people for Essence Fest alone, so we're expecting another big crowd for them," said Kristian Sonnier of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The goal each year is to keep visitors safe. This year the FBI is urging the local public to be aware of what is going on around them as concerns about terrorism have increased nationwide.
"I want to make sure my commitment means we're going to do everything possible from a criminal standpoint on a pro-active level to do everything we can to make this city safe," Edmondson said about his commitment to help patrol the city as the New Orleans Police Department is still struggling with manpower.
Tourism leaders could not be happier about the level of visitors coming to town this time of year.
"We've got roughly 600 more restaurants than we had in 2005, so it's good to get these people coming in," Sonnier said. "They can go out and try out all the new restaurants and new assets and new different attractions the city has."