NEW ORLEANS, La. (WWL-TV) – A new budget proposal could mean fewer state police officers patrolling the French Quarter.
State Police are facing a possible budget cut of $18.5 million, so the office is looking for ways to cut back. That means staffing in the French Quarter could be on the line.
Residents living in the Quarter say they need more police protection, not less. These residents already pay a tax to fund the state troopers and now homeowners and rents are left without that money and without a guaranteed protection from State Police.
Molly Wismeier has lived in the French Quarter for almost seven years. She says living in the historic neighborhood, crime seems to come with the territory.
“I don’t want to say a victim but I guess that’s what it is I’ve been attacked several times while living here,” Wismeier said.
Debra Swanson lives a few blocks over. She said she’s witnessed the violent side of the Quarter as well.
“There’s been a person mugged and beaten, there have been stabbings, not long before we moved in there was somebody killed on the corner of Dauphine and Gov. Nichols,” Swanson said. “Oh my God, a lot of stuff happens over here.”
That’s why these residents are shocked to learn a budget proposal could mean fewer state troopers patrolling the neighborhood.
“Oh heck no. Oh no way. It will get worse,” Swanson said.
“Having the police close it makes you feel a lot safer. They are an effective deterrent,” Wismeier said.
Their role as a deterrent started after a mass shooting on Bourbon Street in 2014. Since then, State Troopers and their patrol cars have been French Quarter fixtures.
State Troopers said right now nothing is set in stone, but they are looking at all the things they spend money on and trying to find ways to cut back.
Other options could include canceling a proposed 50-person cadet class, disrupting impending retirements for 200 troopers or postponing the distribution of body cameras. In a statement, Major Doug Cain said “We are optimistic that we will overcome these challenges with the support of the legislature and continue to provide the public safety services that the public has come to expect from the Louisiana State Police.”
Quarter residents said they have to remain optimistic for their sake and the sake of the city’s economy.
“It’s important. It’s a huge tourist attraction and it brings in great revenue for the city so I hope they would see that and keep the streets safe,” Wismeier said.
Colonel Reeves testified before the Senate Finance Committee Monday, saying that the cuts would create significant challenges for state police.