Even with violent crime as New Orleans’ number one problem, that was not enough to get Mayor Mitch Landrieu out to discuss the issue with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).
Almost 20 of New Orleans’ city officials and criminal justice leaders met with Vitter at a panel discussion about the upswing of violent crime in the city.
The weekend panel discussion was part of a larger effort by Vitter to grasp an idea of public opinion on varying issues within the state to aid his gubernatorial run, in which he is the front-runner.
Though violent crime in the city of New Orleans has been an ongoing issue under Landrieu’s administration, the long-time Democrat, along with Police Chief Michael Harrison were absent to discuss the issue, according to NOLA.com.
Vitter did not shy away from addressing the elephant in the room (Landrieu’s absence), telling NOLA.com that he invited Landrieu, but “he decided not to come.”
The prominent conservative Senator said he agreed with Landrieu that there should be at least a short-term presence of Louisiana State Police in New Orleans to help fight increasing violent crime.
Vitter called the violent crime problem in the Big Easy “horrendous,” saying that the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) cannot be solely relied upon for the time being because of their under-staffed issues.
But, Vitter stayed practical on the issue, saying that an actual State Police base in New Orleans would essentially be too costly to ask the state police to take money out of their own budget to pay for it.
As of now, the State Police is set to stay in New Orleans to help the NOPD reduce violent crime problems through the end of 2015. Vitter, though, said that a permanent presence would be unsustainable.
Even though Landrieu was not at the panel discussion, his spokesman Brad Howard responded afterwards, mentioning that Landrieu has long asked for more federal funding for the NOPD.
“Over the years, the City has sent numerous requests to Sen. Vitter and our entire congressional delegation about Federal funding for NOPD and other ways the Federal government can assist in making New Orleans safer,” Howard told NOLA.com.
Nevertheless, while Landrieu has been calling for an increase in federal funding for the NOPD, business leaders like Sidney Torres have created a French Quarter crime app for the public, along with paying off-duty NOPD officers to patrol the Quarter, to help reduce violent crime.