Today, Governor Bobby Jindal was joined by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson, FBI Special Agent in Charge David Welker, Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Hal Turner, State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas, New Orleans Fire Department Chief Charles Parent and Commissioner for the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, Troy Hebert, to announce important joint law enforcement operations underway to provide security during the 2011 Mardi Gras holiday.
Governor Jindal said, "We are here with all levels of law enforcement -- from the local level, the federal level, and all across state government -- to highlight the incredibly coordinated and dedicated work surrounding the upcoming Mardi Gras holiday. These men and women here with us today are collaborating before the holiday, and will continue to work throughout the Carnival Season to keep everyone safe during 2011 Mardi Gras festivities.
"Last year, State Police utilized 120 troopers during Mardi Gras who responded to 192 calls for service, made 66 arrests - including10 felony arrests, recovered five illegal weapons, and made almost 18,000 public assist contacts. This year, through the coordinated efforts of State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson and NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas, the Louisiana State Police has committed at least 125 troopers to support the New Orleans Police Department. Patrols will be done by vehicle and on foot. LSP efforts will focus on public safety, especially against violent offenders, illegal weapons and narcotics activity. Troopers will also be available to assist businesses, citizens and visitors in the French Quarter and the Central Business District.
"Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning and New Orleans Fire Chief Charles Parent have also created a combined effort to ensure safety in the French Quarter. Six Fire Marshal Inspectors will work with the New Orleans Fire Department Fire Prevention Bureau to inspect all establishments that are expected to have a high occupancy during the Mardi Gras season. Two Fire Investigators will be assigned to work with the New Orleans Fire Department Arson Division to facilitate fire investigations that may be required. Fire Marshal employees assigned to the Mardi Gras detail will continually walk the French Quarter in an effort to provide businesses and individuals with fire safety information.
"The Fire Marshal's Office already conducted 200 courtesy inspections at French Quarter businesses in preparation for what is expected to be a well-attended holiday season. Prevention of incidents that could cause loss of life or property is paramount because of the number of people at the large number of events we expect here in New Orleans Mardi Gras.
"The Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control is supporting the enforcement of alcohol regulation and compliance to help crack down on underage drinking during the holiday by having ATC uniform and undercover agents work overtime throughout the state. Orleans Parish has 553 bars and 491 restaurants permitted to sell alcohol. In Jefferson Parish, there are 503 bars and 472 restaurants with alcohol permits. This region is by far the biggest in the state, with over 2,000 establishments selling alcohol. In the New Orleans area, many businesses have already been approached to solicit their cooperation by exchanging contact information for quicker response time and making sure businesses clearly understand the laws and regulations so they are prepared to handle the problems associated with large crowds.
"The prevention of crime and protection of our people is our absolute ultimate goal and the only way we will accomplish that is by working together as a united front -- just as you see here today."
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, "Having a safe Mardi Gras is our top priority. City and state agencies are coordinating to align resources and to ensure that both residents and visitors can enjoy a world-class experience in New Orleans and celebrate the best of what our culture has to offer. We are confident that our joint efforts will produce a successful Mardi Gras in 2011."
State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson said, "Louisiana's traditional celebration of Mardi Gras brings tough challenges for law enforcement agencies in the Greater New Orleans area. Public safety efforts during Mardi Gras can be both manpower and resource intensive. Therefore, I am pleased to provide 125 Troopers to assist the City of New Orleans in facing these challenges. The Louisiana State Police has enjoyed a long-standing partnership with City Hall and local law enforcement. We will continue these efforts by working side by side with the dedicated men and women who work tirelessly to keep the streets of New Orleans safe for the benefit of the residents and those who come to visit this great city during Carnival."
State Fire Marshal Chief Butch Browning said, "During the past three years, the Office of State Fire Marshal has fostered an exceptional partnership with the New Orleans Fire Department. Safety has been enhanced and service to the public continues to be our focus. We look forward to working side by side with Chief Parent and his Firefighters during Mardi Gras in an effort to better protect those who live, work, and visit the great City of New Orleans."
FBI Special Agent in Charge David Welker said, "I am proud to stand with Governor Jindal, Mayor Landrieu and our law enforcement partners to reflect on the positive relationships and good things we are doing together in New Orleans and throughout the state. In today's criminal and economic environments, state, local, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies must collaborate and bring collective resources to bear on criminals and criminal activity, from violent crime and gangs to public corruption to crimes against children, significant fraud and counter terrorism. The FBI is truly fortunate to enjoy the cooperative spirit of partnership with law enforcement agencies throughout Louisiana, especially in New Orleans."
Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert said, "Most businesses want to do what is right and that's why its critical that ATC is proactive in working with them. The Carnival Season represents a huge economic boost from a tradition unique to our state, and ensuring alcohol is handled responsibly is an important part of making this celebration safe and fun."
District Attorney Leon A. Cannizzaro said, "I want to thank the Louisiana State Police, Colonel Edmonson, and Governor Jindal for their contributions to public safety in New Orleans. Their assistance in the upcoming Carnival Season as well as with increased traffic enforcement in Orleans Parish will greatly contribute to the safety of the citizens of New Orleans. While I have always considered the State Police an ally of the District Attorney's office and the New Orleans Police Department in our fight against violent crime, this is another example of increased public safety through cooperation and collaboration in the law enforcement community. From my perspective, this is an example of what can be accomplished when our partners in the criminal justice system work together to solve problems."
NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said, "The 1,735 members of our police force are committed to ensuring that New Orleans is a safer place to live, work and visit during Mardi Gras. We expect to have more boots on the ground and an increased presence in the 8th District this year. We sincerely appreciate the support, manpower, and coordination from Col. Edmonson and the Louisiana State Police."
NOFD Superintendent Charles Parent said, "The hard working men and women of the New Orleans Fire Department keep Mardi Gras rolling year after year. "The State Fire Marshall's cooperation and support is vital to our success throughout this important event for our city."
Executive Director of the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association Hal Turner said, "The safer we make Mardi Gras, the more our citizens and visitors from around the world will enjoy their experience in New Orleans and our entire state. When federal, state and local law enforcement officials work together, we're more effective at tracking down criminals, deterring crime and improving the quality of life for Louisianians and our visitors so they can enjoy the state's world-class food, music and culture."
The Governor said the troopers assigned to the Mardi Gras detail will adjust their hours accordingly, as to not incur any overtime expenses at a cost to the state. Base salaries are covered by LSP, and lodging will be covered by city in coordination with the Hotel/Motel Association, meaning the Louisiana State Police Mardi Gras detail will be accomplished at no additional expense to the state. The State Fire Marshal detail will also be paid from base salaries and work at no additional cost to the state.
Coordinated Law Enforcement Support
Since taking office in 2008, the Jindal Administration has continuously worked at the state level to coordinate law enforcement support for New Orleans -- especially during special occasions and large events like the: Mardi Gras 2008, 2009, 2010; 2008 NBA All-Star Game; 2008 National Conference of State Legislators; 2008 North American Leadership Summit; and Sugar Bowl 2008, 2009, 2010.
Each Mardi Gras, LSP launches "Operation Carnival Sweep" to disrupt criminal activity and apprehend felons, which lasts for over five days and utilizes 40 LSP personnel.
State Police's New Orleans Detectives Field Office is a member of the United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force, which encompasses several different agencies targeting crimes in New Orleans that involve a financial loss through the use of computers.
Also, the New Orleans Narcotics Section is a full-time participant of the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, which is tasked with identifying and dismantling drug trafficking organizations that operate in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. The Auto Theft Unit continues to work with the NOPD Auto Theft Unit and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and LSP serves as a full member on the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Anti Terrorism Advisory Council, which is based in the New Orleans Area.
Additionally, Operation Child Watch is an ongoing effort by State Police, in coordination with local, state and federal partners to combat child exploitation -- including child pornography, and human trafficking, which Governor Jindal just recently announced legislation to add additional penalties to in the upcoming session.
The State Fire Marshal's Office also reassigned two architects and one engineer to the New Orleans office to expedite construction project plan approval and provide for local plan reviews. This enhances services to investors, designers, builders and citizens. The State Fire Marshal's Office conducts 4,500 onsite inspections in New Orleans each year to permit the opening of commercial buildings while ensuring the safety of people who live, work and visit New Orleans. The Fire Marshal's Office also assigned an investigator to work full-time in the city to address the rising arson problem. Most recently, they assisted in the investigation of the tragic warehouse fire that claimed the lives of eight. They also entered into a joint task force in New Orleans East where there have been 17 arson fires in a residential area.
Crime Lab Support
To help in prosecuting criminal activity, the Governor said the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab assists NOPD with high priority rush cases, mostly targeted at violent sexual offenses and homicides. LSP worked to foster a collaborative arrangement to reduce NOPD's backlogged sexual assault kits -- which are over 700, so Marshall University's Forensic DNA Unit can analyze them. Reports are then reviewed and uploaded to the state's system by the Crime Lab to aid in the prosecution of violent criminals.
Additionally, the State Police Crime Lab is working with the National Institute of Justice to implement a software program for CODIS -- the combined DNA tracking system - to follow-up on all DNA hits reported to NOPD. This software is being provided free of charge by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and it will be accessible to the Crime Lab, NOPD investigators, and Orleans prosecutors. This is a pilot program that may eventually be used statewide. As part of this pilot, NOPD assigned a person to be the point of contact responsible for reconciling every CODIS hit that has been issued to NOPD. The Crime Lab signed an agreement for NOPD to hire two DNA analysts who will be housed and trained at the Crime Lab.