Troopers work statewide to ensure Carnival safety

Staff reports

As Mardi Gras festivities take place across the state, Louisiana State Troopers are partnering with local agencies in a cooperative effort to ensure a safe and enjoyable carnival season.  Troopers are participating in parades and Mardi Gras activities in every troop area including events in Shreveport, Monroe, West Monroe, Alexandria, Lake Charles, Lafayette, St. Martinville, New Roads, Houma, Covington, and Slidell.  In addition to traffic and crowd control assistance for parades across the state, Troopers plan to conduct extensive DWI saturation patrols and safety checkpoints to remove impaired drivers from the roadways and promote safe driving practices.

With the annual influx of carnival revelers to the greater New Orleans area, Louisiana State Police is partnering with the New Orleans Police Department, Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, Department of Corrections, and the State Fire Marshal’s Office throughout Mardi Gras in an effort to ensure public safety in the French Quarter and on New Orleans metro area roadways.  LSP will have over 150 Troopers deployed in the New Orleans area to supplement the New Orleans Police Department throughout the French Quarter and Central Business District beginning Friday, February 17th through Wednesday, February 22nd.  Troopers will be patrolling both on foot and in vehicles assisting NOPD with calls for service, conducting proactive crime deterrent patrols, and public assists.

"Louisiana's traditional Mardi Gras celebrations can bring tough challenges for law enforcement agencies in the greater New Orleans area and throughout the state.  The Louisiana State Police is committed to providing our citizens and visitors to our state a safe environment to enjoy the carnival festivities," stated Colonel Mike Edmonson, State Police Superintendent.  “Troopers, deputies, and officers around the state will work side by side to provide proactive, aggressive enforcement of public safety violations.  Our goal is simple – a happy and safe Mardi Gras for all.”

Citizens and visitors are urged to remember the importance of personal safety and responsibility keeping in mind several safety tips in order to keep themselves and their property safe while enjoying the festivities.

Personal Safety:

·        If you are unfamiliar with the area you will be walking in, pick up a local map or get directions from reliable people, such as hotel personnel or law enforcement officers.   

·        Avoid vacant areas and dark alleys.  There is safety in numbers so walk with someone you know or stay with the crowd.

·        Do not flash large sums of currency while in public.  This could possibly catch the eye of criminals.

·        Carry pertinent information (driver’s license, ID, credit cards, keys, etc.) and valuables in your front pocket.  This puts pickpockets at a disadvantage.  Avoid wearing baggy pants and, if possible, connect a chain from your wallet to your belt loop, making it more difficult for criminals.

·        Avoid carrying bulky purses and wearing expensive/flashy jewelry.  Ensure your purse is zipped at all times preventing easy access for criminals.

·        Consume alcohol responsibly.  One of the first effects of alcohol consumption is impaired judgment.  A highly intoxicated person can be an easy target for a criminal.

Driving Safety:

·        Buzzed driving is drunk driving.  Prior to enjoying the festivities, make a plan and stick to it.  Designate a sober driver, take a taxi, or have a sober family member or friend pick you up and take you home safely.   

·        Be prepared, be buckled.  Louisiana law requires everyone in the vehicle to be properly restrained.  In the event of a crash, the safest place to be is inside the vehicle.

·        If you drink and drive, you will go to jail.  Louisiana State Troopers will be aggressively patrolling the roads for impaired drivers throughout the Carnival season.

Parking:

·        Pay attention to parking signs and use common sense.  Due to limited parking, motorist should attempt to carpool or use an alternate form of transportation.

·        Observe the restricted parking areas in and around the French Quarter.  Do not block fire hydrants, driveways, or interfere with the flow of traffic on streets and sidewalks.  This will ensure the safe movement of emergency vehicles and personnel responding to calls for service and emergency situations.

·        New Orleans City ordinance restricts parking on parade routes 2 hours prior and 2 hours after the parades.

·        Remember to remove all valuables from your vehicle or from the view of the public eye.

·        Double check to ensure your vehicle is locked and the windows are closed. Make sure you have your keys and take a moment to look around and remember where you parked.

·        Have pertinent vehicle information readily available including year, make, model, and license plate number.  This will assist you and the police in determining whether your vehicle has been towed or stolen.

While troopers will remain vigilant across the state, responsible decisions, behavior, and precautionary measures will ensure a safe and enjoyable Mardi Gras holiday for everyone.

To report impaired drivers or unsafe roadway conditions, dial *LSP (*577) from your cellular phone to reach the State Police office closest to you.   

Citizens and visitors are also urged to enroll in Nixle Alerts for real time updates on roadway closures, crash locations, and pertinent safety information for their region of the state. To enroll visit www.nixle.com, complete the required information, and select Louisiana State Police as your agency.

For more information regarding specific enforcement activities and safety campaigns in your area, please contact your local LSP Public Information Officer.  www.lsp.org/public.html