The National Guard is now in New Orleans because crime has gotten out of control.

Good. Probably should have happened a while ago.

In fact, it turns out that the governor and the mayor were planning the deployment even before the five teenagers were killed in New Orleans last weekend.

But I'm wondering why it was necessary.

I'm told the New Orleans Police Department is up to speed, at pre-Katrina staffing. If that's true, you have to wonder what speed.

Imagine Daryl Gates and his LAPD during the riots in '92 calling in the National Guard to go get Damian "Football" Williams in his South Central crib after he was caught on tape bashing Reginald Denny's head in.

No way. Gates went and did it himself with a phalanx of LAPD cars and cops.

Ray Nagin needs to employ the same approach as Gates. He needs to lead the charge in New Orleans and go jack up some teenagers with guns. He needs to demonstrate somebody in New Orleans is in charge and can handle teenagers with guns without calling in the troops.

Troops are for Iraq. The cops should be able to handle New Orleans.

And you wonder why Nagin and his cops don't? Have they decided the city does belong to the street gangs?

If so, Nagin needs to let somebody else be mayor and that somebody else needs to get some new cops. Since when do cops need troops as backup for kids with guns?

It is said that the troops will play a backup role guarding parts of town from looters so the cops can go after the kids. I hope that version of this story is true.

Otherwise we're going to inevitably have a story that a National Guardsman has shot and killed a teenager thug with a gun. Then there will be tons of hand wringing about the poor kid and what terrible things have been brought down on New Orleans because it has been militarized.

New Orleans should be handled by the local cops, and it's a mystery to me why they haven't been able to.

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