Landry, Cantrell at Bayou Classic (copy)

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Gov.-elect Jeff Landry and political strategist Mary-Patricia Wray are seen in a photo shared to Cantrell's official Facebook page on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023 at the Bayou Classic foootball game in New Orleans, LA.

Gov. Jeff Landry’s plan to create a permanent Louisiana State Police troop in New Orleans will fulfill one of his top campaign promises, but he would do well to remember Colin Powell’s warning to President George W. Bush about invading Iraq: “You break it, you own it.”

Landry, of course, has made it clear he thinks the New Orleans Police Department is already broken — “shambles” is how he described it — and he blames the federal consent decree that has governed NOPD since 2012.

Whatever’s to blame, the governor is now on the hook for reducing crime in New Orleans. If he succeeds, even to a modest degree, he’ll deserve whatever laurels are tossed his way.

But, if his plan fails, he’ll own that failure. And it will stick to him like fresh cow poop on work boots.

Deep down, most New Orleanians hope Landry’s plan works — none more so than Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who recently gushed over the idea.

Not so much Landry’s “shambles” comment, but she loved his critique of the consent decree. “What the governor said was right on,” the mayor said.

Cantrell has tried, without success, to convince U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan to end the decree. She no doubt welcomes Landry to the fray.

Landry and Cantrell are the unlikeliest of allies, but we all know what they say about politics and strange bedfellows.

Kumbayas aside, reducing crime in the state’s largest city won’t happen quickly, or easily.

Landry will have to walk a political and legal tightrope just to get Troop Nola up and running. His first hurdle will be convincing state lawmakers to adequately fund it.

Legislative approval isn’t a given, but it’s only fair that the state should bear the cost of Troop Nola. No other parish has to pay extra for State Police protection.

Moreover, NOPD’s personnel shortage is indeed a crisis. Along with fears of violent crime, it affects the entire state because of New Orleans’ economic importance.

That said, there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to addressing New Orleans crime, NOPD and the consent decree.

Let’s start with NOPD’s manpower shortage.

When Mitch Landrieu took office as New Orleans mayor in 2010, he instituted a hiring freeze as a stopgap measure to keep the city out of bankruptcy — and to restore services after the debacle left by disgraced former Mayor Ray Nagin.

But doing so came at the expense of NOPD’s staffing levels.

At the same time, Landrieu negotiated the federal consent decree, whose primary goal — constitutional policing — New Orleanians still support in overwhelming numbers.

The decree itself is not the problem, despite what some politicians claim. The problem lies in how — and whether — some parts of it have been implemented.

Not so long ago, Morgan said that the city was close to moving out from under the decree. That changed when cops began leaving NOPD in droves as Cantrell micromanaged the department — and blamed the decree for her own bad calls.

Despite a significant drop in violent crime last year, people still feel unsafe in New Orleans.

Landry’s plan to station 40 state troopers in New Orleans will help, but it won’t solve the city’s cop shortage. New Orleans has less than 900 police when it needs closer to 1,400. The governor opined that even if Morgan were to dissolve the decree immediately, “it would take a decade to build that police department back up.”

Moreover, staffing Troop Nola with 40 experienced troopers means removing them from suburban and rural parishes, where they no doubt play a major role in public safety. That’s sure to displease sheriffs (who helped elect Landry) in those communities.

Members of Troop Nola also must be carefully selected — and properly trained in urban police practices — to make sure they don’t create more problems than they solve. The feds have already launched a “pattern or practice” investigation into LSP in the wake of several racially charged incidents of abuse.

New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas, a frequent Cantrell ally and chair of the council's criminal justice committee, thanked Landry for the help but also expressed concerns about how the troopers will be deployed. Thomas asked specifically if they will abide by the consent decree, commit to constitutional policing and report to NOPD Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

Other council members and community leaders likely have similar concerns, even if they, like Thomas, are grateful for the help.

Landry deserves credit for committing the state to help solve New Orleans’ crime problem. Ultimately, he and his new BFF Cantrell will own Troop Nola's record.

Clancy DuBos is Gambit's Political Editor. You can reach him at