Mardi Gras krewes scramble to find additional security to return to traditional routes

Krewes have until end of the day on January 23 to submit to the city the details of the officers and deputies they’ve secured to work their routes.

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As the thick of Mardi Gras season bears down upon New Orleans, many of the parade krewes are scrambling to contact law enforcement agencies across Louisiana to help secure their return to traditional Mardi Gras routes.

With the city’s ongoing manpower crisis within the New Orleans Police Department, krewes were asked by the city last week to help in locating additional officers to support the return to traditional routes.

During a meeting of the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council on Thursday, the city laid out its plan to reimburse the krewes for the money spent on hiring additional security, as well as how the external officers and deputies will be utilized during the parades.

“We’re excited, we’re encouraged, we’re hopeful and confident that Mardi Gras can go back to what it was,” said Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño. “NOPD officers will be peppered throughout any sparsing of our external officers. Should an incident arise, it will be NOPD that would be deployed to address whatever incident that would be.”

The city said it plans to pay 50 dollars per hour per officer for those parades that do not roll on Mardi Gras Day, with parades rolling on Fat Tuesday receiving a reimbursement of 75 dollars per hour.

MORE: New Orleans Krewes can return to original parade routes if adequately secured

Montaño said the funds will come out of the city’s fund balance, and he expects the added cost to be anywhere from 400 to 800 thousand dollars.

“One of the benefits we had over the course of our budgetary process is making sure we’re financially stable, and as a result of that financial stability, we have significant savings that we have stored up over the course of several years,” he said.

Because of NOPD’s consent decree, all officers who work parades must be POST-certified in Louisiana, limiting krewes to calling on agencies within the state. Even though entities from outside of the state have expressed interest, Montaño said they’re constrained.

Agencies must also have a Memorandum of Understanding or a Cooperative Endeavor agreement in place with NOPD or be willing to sign one.

Krewes have until the end of the day on Monday, January 23 to let the city know how many officers and deputies they have secured to work their parade.

“I think we need to see how many officers we will get and for what street coverage and let NOPD and leadership make that final decision on what is a green light and what is not,” Montaño said.

But Mardi Gras Guide Publisher Arthur Hardy said it’s going to be a short time frame for krewes to hustle up the added security. He said, in conversations he’s had with krewe leadership, the difficulty lies in getting agencies willing to come to New Orleans.

“For some reason, police from other jurisdictions don’t want to come here. It’s a great question, and I don’t know the answer,” Hardy said. “It may be that they don’t understand the details, and that was good today. Information is coming out about exactly what their limitations would be, what their liabilities would be.”

“Who knows what tomorrow is going to bring?”

Hardy said, for some krewes, it’s a much bigger ask.

Thoth, for example, had 31 blocks cut from their original route. With four officers needed per block, that’s 124 additional bodies needed in order for the parade to roll on its traditional route starting at Children’s Hospital.

“It’s still a moving target. We’ve got a little bit of time, but not much,” Hardy said. “Time is short, but I’m not about to give up, I’m really not. There’s some optimism in the room, but the reality is this is a tough sell.”

Here’s the breakdown of how many additional officers are needed, based on the starting point of the traditional parade routes:

Jefferson & Magazine St.: 72 officers to cover 18 blocks cut.

Magazine St. & Napoleon Ave.: 20 officers to cover 5 blocks cut.

Henry Clay & Tchoupitoulas St.: 124 officers to cover 31 blocks cut.

Tchoupitoulas & Napoleon Ave.: 36 officers to cover 9 blocks cut.

Claiborne & Napoleon Ave.: 60 officers to cover 15 blocks cut.

South Saratoga & Napoleon Ave.: 16 officers to cover 4 blocks cut.

Westbank (NOMTOC): 12 officers to cover 3 blocks cut.

Hardy said the problem is not finding the money to bring in additional officers but in finding the officers willing to work the routes.

“It’s a crazy time for Mardi Gras. But this is the only year I would ever be happy that some of the maps in my magazine were wrong,” he said.

Mardi Gras Day, or Fat Tuesday, falls on February 21.

Click here for the 2023 Mardi Gras parade schedule for the greater New Orleans metro area.

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David Jones

David Jones

David Jones traded the beach for the bayou in December 2021 when he made the move from Florida to New Orleans to be a reporter for Fox 8.