By Matt Delaney | The Washington Times | February 6, 2023

New Orleans being named the nation’s “murder capital” ahead of Mardi Gras has local officials scrambling to bolster security while business owners are concerned that the reputation will scare away festival-goers.

“I have had remarks that said because of the crime we don’t come to New Orleans,” Mary Murdock, co-owner of Betsy’s Pancake House in the city, told Fox News Digital.

New Orleans witnessed 277 homicides last year and surpassed St. Louis with the most homicides per capita in the fall, according to the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a New Orleans nonprofit. Homicides have continued to trend in the wrong direction in 2023, as they’re up 14% when compared to this point in 2022.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been trying to help out her city’s understaffed police force by asking departments if they are willing to work the Feb. 21 celebration.

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, as well as police officers from nearby colleges Xavier University and Holy Cross University, will assist the parade, according to WWL-TV, the local CBS affiliate for New Orleans.

But multiple other law enforcement departments — such as St. Charles, St. John, St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and East Baton Rouge parishes — have turned down the mayor’s call for parade help.

And some of the outside departments that Ms. Cantrell praised last month for committing to work security for the parade are actually still undecided, such as deputies from the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office, WWL-TV reported.

These challenges are bringing mixed feelings to a parade route that will return to its pre-pandemic normal for the first time in four years.

“Small business and restaurants rely on foot traffic. They rely on people coming to their locations,” Ronal Serpas, former superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, told Fox News Digital. “And in many cases in the city, New Orleans, where a five-year unrelenting increase in armed robberies and carjackings and shootings, that creates a fear factor.”