Edwards: Lean State Police numbers limit more local law enforcement help
Governor says National Guard is not an option to curb New Orleans crime
Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday, June 13, 2022, that Louisiana State Police is short about 300 troopers from ideal staffing levels. (Raymond Clark images)
HARVEY – The ability for Louisiana State Police to help supplement local law enforcement in areas seeing spikes in violent crime is limited because the agency is about 300 troopers short of ideal numbers, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday.
After a speaking engagement in the New Orleans area, reporters asked the governor about whether the ongoing federal civil rights probe and criminal investigations into Louisiana State Police would limit the deployment of troopers to fight crime in municipalities. While he deferred comment on the investigations to the Department of Justice, Edwards did say that the shortage in manpower creates a challenge for troopers.
“When you when you are short that number of troopers and your primary role is to promote highway safety … then then it becomes very difficult to offer all the assistance that you might want to offer with respect to violent crime in political subdivisions,” Edwards said.
There were 924 troopers employed by Louisiana State Police as of May 23, according spokesperson Lt. Melissa Matey. There was no information provided on how many of them were on medical leave or otherwise not available for duty.
Louisiana State Police is under heightened scrutiny following the May 2019 in-custody death of Ronald Greene, a Black motorist.
The governor stressed that troopers will continue to be involved in existing violent crime task forces with federal, state and local partners.
Troopers will continue to work with the New Orleans Police Department, according to a report from The Lens. An NOPD spokesman said the department will deploy Operation Golden Eagle again this year. Last summer, dozens of state police were assigned to the city to conduct stops and make arrests.
New Orleans City Council crime data show shooting deaths and armed robberies have increased roughly one-third so far this year compared with 2021. The perception of lawlessness in the city has been exacerbated in recent weeks through viral videos of street racers blocking intersections for stunt driving, including a recent instance when onlookers climbed atop an NOPD unit on the scene.
Like many cities, the NOPD has struggled to recruit enough new officers to replace those leaving the force. The department’s ranks have fallen below 1,000 for the first time in decades, leading some frustrated residents to mount a grass-roots effort to bring the National Guard into New Orleans.
“We’re not going to do that,” Edwards told reporters. “National Guardsmen are soldiers, they’re not law enforcement officers. You have rules engagement issues, and it’s just that that is not an answer.”
The governor said the National Guard’s priority is to respond to natural disasters, adding that its members are not trained in day-to-day policing.
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This story was update to include the most recent staffing numbers from Louisiana State Police.
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