TUPD jurisdiction agreement demonstrates city, state failure to protect NOLA

Tulane University Police Department’s mutual aid agreement with the New Orleans Police Department shows that the university has taken proactive action to protect the safety of the Tulane community, both on and off campus. It is an action, however, that also demonstrates the failure of the city and the state to provide adequate police protection for the people of New Orleans. 

The agreement gives TUPD “the same territorial and subject matter jurisdiction of the applicable NOPD station district.” Despite the fact that TUPD will be able to perform the same activities as NOPD, Tulane’s police force will not receive any funding from the city. TUPD Superintendent Jon Barnwell said the agreement allows TUPD to better assist Tulane-affiliated individuals throughout the city.

While Tulane should be commended for putting the protection of its students into its own hands, the city must not use the agreement as an excuse for shirking its responsibility to protect all residents of the city, including Tulane students.

It’s no secret that local and state government has neglected the safety of New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD leadership have failed to reverse a high rate of attrition and low rate of recruitment, in part due to the ongoing consent decree to oversee reforms instituted by the U.S. Department of Justice. Additionally, the city has consistently given too few resources to NOPD. Officers, for example, went eight years without a pay raise. A five percent raise for NOPD officers passed by City Council in December will do little to bring NOPD in line with the regional average that, according to a 2014 study by the Civil Service Commission, is 28 percent higher than the average salaries of NOPD officers.

The result of this neglect has become dangerously obvious. Since 2010, the size of NOPD has shrunk by one-third. Violent crime, on the other hand, is on the rise. In desperation, Landrieu has called on the state for assistance. Following a shooting on Bourbon Street last summer that killed one and injured nine others, 100 state troopers were deployed to the city for four months to help give New Orleans a larger police presence.

State Police have returned for several special events since then, but the final state troopers have left. State Police will briefly return for Mardi Gras and other special occasions, but Jindal has failed the city by not providing his state’s most populous and economically important city the police protection it so desperately needs.

This multilateral governmental failure leaves TUPD to pick up the slack. The department is a resource Tulane is lucky to have, but the entire city is entitled to the protection Tulane has shown it is willing to give its students.