‘COVID-19 has evaporated those dollars’: City of New Orleans to end State Trooper contracts, blames finances

City of New Orleans to end State Trooper contracts, blames finances

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In 2015, New Orleans officials signed a contract with Louisiana State Police to have a number of troopers patrol the French Quarter. At the start of this year, there were 15 troopers, during the pandemic the number dropped to between eight and ten. Now, in the new year, troopers will no longer patrol the French Quarter.

“We’re unable to continue that agreement with the state police,” said Eric Smith with the city’s French Quarter Improvement Fund.

Josh Cox, the city’s strategic initiative director says, simply the city can no longer afford the $6 million contract budget for both State Police and the French Quarter Task Force.

“COVID-19 has evaporated those dollars and moving forward we are looking at between $1.5 and $1.8 million dollars to try to accomplish the exact same mission of providing supplemental patrol in the French Quarter,” Cox said.

Instead of those eight to ten state troopers, the city hopes to make do with three overtime NOPD officers, one officer during the day and two at night.

But even that smaller number of officers dedicated to the French Quarter depends on approval by voters to renew a quarter-penny sales tax.

“The core issue is that the budget crisis that the whole city is facing has really effected our ability to fund those services,” Cox said.

This comes at a time French Quarter business owner, Joseph Duffy, says theft is rising.

“A few Mondays ago, we had three incidents on a Monday during corona, three, on a slow Monday,” Duffy said.

He says the first incident he called NOPD to no avail. The second incident he went to the French Quarter Task Force app and was able to get an overtime NOPD officer out to him, but he said he never received a report or got a follow-up.

Duffy is weary of how things will look like in the French Quarter without state troopers.

“I like the state police. They’re usually calm and collective,” said Duffy. “If you flag one down they’re good about helping you. I know all the guys that work for the NOPD over here, they’re all great guys. They’re limited to what they can do because there’s so much going on and there’s not enough of them.”

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