New Orleans Cops Need Back-Up for Anniversary

By Vic Walter And Krista Kjellman

Aug 23, 2006 3:09pm

Beleaguered New Orleans cops, already trying to cope with a major crime wave and depleted ranks, are scrambling to meet the security requirements for visits next week by President Bush and a long list of other dignitaries. ABC News has learned state and federal law enforcement officers are being called up as reinforcements for the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina due to a rise in violent crimes in the city. The crime rate in New Orleans is at pre-hurricane levels despite a 50 percent decrease in the city’s population. Last month alone, there were 21 murders committed in the city, only one shy of the number from July of last year, according to the New Orleans Police Department.  Earlier this summer, five teens were fatally shot while they drove through Central City, prompting Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to call up the National Guard. And just yesterday, a New Orleans woman was fatally shot in the head while riding her bike through the 7th Ward of New Orleans.  Earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez committed more federal resources to the city, including more attorneys, agents and U.S. marshals to track down violent fugitives.    President Bush, who promised to do "what it takes and stay as long it takes," is expected to join in the anniversary observances in New Orleans next week.  Earlier this week, he asked for patience with the recovery effort in New Orleans, "I also want the people down there to understand that it’s going to take a while to recover.  This was a huge storm." As for the schedule of events marking the President’s visit to the Big Easy, there are three city-wide marches highlighting the Superdome, Convention Center and Congo Square  and a tolling of the bells at the time the first levee broke. A ceremony called "Hands Around the Dome" will remember those who died in Hurricane Katrina and those who suffered after evacuating to the Convention Center and Superdome, as well as those who risked their lives to save the lives of others.

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