150 state troopers to patrol French Quarter during Mardi Gras

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)-- As Carnival festivities near, violent crime in the French Quarter is putting the city on edge.  WGNO reporter Deepak Saini shows how the urgency to fight crime is coming from different resources.

The French Quarter, the city's most iconic destination, is now becoming a place people fear.

"When I see all these crimes and these elderly people getting beat up for no reason, people getting attacked for no reason, it's sad to see," says local entrepreneur Sidney Torres.

Torres has been critical of how the Landrieu administration has handled the crime problem in the city.  It hit close to home when an intruder broke into Torres' home on Esplanade Avenue in December.

"To have someone come into my son's room and break down the door, it was very scary," says Torres.

Weeks later, when Buffa's was robbed nearby, Torres offered his own money for an award for any tip that lead to an arrest.  For being vigilance, the French Quarter Business Association is applauding Torres.

"It's an honor that they thought enough of me that they want me to speak on behalf of my efforts as well as our efforts to making the French Quarter safe," says Torres.

While Torres says he's working with the city on a short-term plan to keep the French Quarter safe, at the same time, Louisiana State Police are announcing 150 troopers will patrol the area during Carnival season.

"I want to be successful. I don't want the criminals to know where we are. I don't want them to know when we're coming.  I don't want them to know what we're doing.  I just want them to see us when we get there, that's the element of surprise I think the city needs." says Col. Mike Edmonson with Louisiana State Police.

They're a critical resource while the NOPD is struggling to keep enough officers on the streets.  NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison says his force appreciates the help.

"We have recruits in field operations, in field training, while we're growing, until we can get those field officers out there to staff some of those areas, like we would like them to be staffed, that helps," says Supt. Michael Harrison.

Just this week, two armed robberies happened within minutes of each other in the French Quarter, creating frustration ahead of Carnival season.  The urgent call to limit senseless acts of violence can be heard now, more than ever.

"We're going to put things in place where people will be able to see a visible difference and feel safe, be able to walk down the street and feel safe," says Torres.

Col. Edmonson says troopers will primarily be in the French Quarter, Lower Ninth Ward, Bywater, CBD and New Orleans East.  Meanwhile, the NOPD says they're ironing out a  plan to see if State Police can stay in New Orleans longer than May.

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