Tourism industry picks up the tab to keep State Police in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)-- A Bourbon Street brawl caught on video and police seem to be nowhere in sight.  At a time when the police force's numbers are at a critical low, WGNO reporter Deepak Saini shows us why funds to keep more manpower on the streets is coming from an unexpected source.

A brawl between several men and bouncers outside the Bourbon Heat nightclub.  The cell phone video lasts 4 minutes.  Nowhere is a cop in sight.

"These things happen. We try to get there as fast as we can. Our officers are working on Bourbon Street but they have other duties also," says NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison.

Supt. Harrison admits it took officers 10 minutes to arrive on scene.

"We're working through that. That's part of our staffing issue," says Supt. Harrison.

The NOPD's police force is at a historic low and the need for state troopers is at an all time high.

"You don't want to get to fact that the French Quarter is not where you want to be after midnight, and you're hearing that, and that's a shame," says Col. Mike Edmonson with Louisiana State Police.

Col. Edmonson says more than 150 troopers will be in New Orleans through May.  For the first time, an unlikely source, the New Orleans Convention & Visitor's Bureau, says it will foot the $2.5 million bill.

"Right now is a time of need. It's also a time where both the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans have real budget restrictions and real problems," says Stephen Perry with the New Orleans Convention & Visitor's Bureau.

Local hotels in the downtown area are stepping in, offering troopers free rooms.

"It's an honor to contribute our inventory to make sure they have a place to stay and it doesn't cost the city of New Orleans or the state of Louisiana anything at all," says Robert Bray with the New Orleans Marriott Hotels.

A high cost for peace of mind when it comes to brawls on Bourbon Street.

"This is about protecting our greatest asset and what people want to do every single night when they go to bed, cut that light off and know they feel safe," says Col. Edmonson.

NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison says summons have been issued for some of the people involved in the brawl.  He also says more cops will be in the French Quarter starting this weekend.

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