Is recent French Quarter attack a tipping point? LSU criminologist says yes

French Quarter safety called into question

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - An LSU criminologist says he believes the French Quarter is no longer safe, and that a recent attack caught on video has put crime there at a crucial tipping point.

His remarks come as the State Police promise to keep troopers in the Quarter after a change in the agency's administration.

For more than three years, state troopers have provided an extra layer of security in the French Quarter due to NOPD's manpower shortage.

After a meeting Wednesday, between NOPD Ssuperintendent Michael Harrison and newly appointed State Police Col. Kevin Reeves, those patrols will continue for the foreseeable future.

"We did talk about a long-term relationship, partnership and how the State Police could partner with the NOPD to provide safety and create new initiatives, whether it is in the French Quarter or anywhere else in the city where we can be partners to increase visibility, increase deterrence and try to apprehend some of these violent offenders that are committing crimes," Harrison said.

The recent spike of violent crimes in the Quarter strike fear for residents and tourists alike, especially after four men brutally attacked two tourists from Boston on Bienville Street Saturday night.

"If you can't protect 208 Bienville Street, what can you protect?" said criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf. "That's what the average guy in the street is saying."

Scharf says tourists and convention organizers have taken notice of the violent crime that keeps happening in the French Quarter. And if the trend continues and the city's murder rate increases, Scharf believes the tourism industry will decline.

"The country now is again gaining awareness of what the violent crime realities are here and the risks of something happening to them," he said. "I think you're close to a tipping point the wrong way."

And in the case of keeping troopers in the city, Scharf says it pulls resources away from other areas around the state. With a state budget crisis and law enforcement agencies cutting back, moving troopers to New Orleans fills a void - but it can also create one.

"In some ways you can argue that Lafourche Parish benefits from the quarter because of the tax base," Scharf said. "They don't want to lose a State Trooper for a patrol in the Quarter."

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