NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — It’s the comment about Mardi Gras that stunned New Orleans.

“If we don’t have adequate police, it could mean that there will be no Mardi Gras. That’s a fact. If our officers can not be safe, then there’s no way that our city will be safe,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

At a budget town hall in Lakeview last night, Mayor Cantrell brought up the possibility of calling off carnival if there aren’t enough cops to keep everyone safe. Her comment received fiery backlash from the community.

“Don’t be giving that message out. Don’t be using Mardi Gras as a hostage,” said Errol Laborde, a Mardi Gras historian.

“I think it was a bit premature to start talking about canceling Mardi Gras,” said Capt. Mike Glasser, President of the Police Association of New Orleans.

Following the controversy, Cantrell released a statement saying she would not cancel Mardi Gras. Some krewe members say they didn’t take the comment seriously.

“I did not believe it from the beginning. I don’t think it’s a possibility of that even happening,” said Sonny Borey, Krewe of Orpheus Captain.

Many feel Cantrell’s statement could be detrimental to tourism.

“Negative publicity with the word ‘Mardi Gras’ on it, it goes global. I mean, it gets around the world, people who were probably thinking about coming to carnival this year will say, ‘oh no. Well, I heard it’s not going to happen’,” said Laborde.

When it comes to the issue of the NOPD’s staffing shortage, Glasser says we need to find solutions now.

“We’re 124 short today from January 1. If you do the math on that, that’s one every 44 hours. If the attrition continues the same way, you lose one every other day. If you do the math, when Mardi Gras rolls around, we will be 200 short,” said Glasser.