Nelson said he requested the extra help from Troop I commander Becket Breaux after receiving too many complaints about burglaries and thefts.
Breaux, a St. Martinville native and resident, responded by assigning extra patrols for six weeks, Nelson said.
Troop I spokesman Stephen Hammonds said the extra help does not rise to the level of a task force but rather just a little extra attention as would be available to any community asking for it.
SMPD Chief Paula Smith said she welcomes the help and has seen some benefit from it already.
“It’s not like we have a lot of crime here,” she said. “Are there any towns where they don’t have burglaries?”
Nelson said he believes, based on the number of complaints he was getting, that crime is on the rise in St. Martinville.
“We need to keep people from Lafayette, New Iberia, and even the Breaux Bridge area out of St. Martinville,” he said. “(Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis) Ackal is cracking down and they’re hopping over here looking for an easier place.”
Nelson and Smith have had their differences, most recently over the impact of what Nelson calls loitering – young men standing on the street corners in groups of three or four.
“What they do, they watch to see when you come and go, and when they see the opportunity, they will go in and steal.”
Smith has been publicly reluctant to target persons merely standing on the street, saying that in most cases they’re just “visiting” and that it’s their First Amendment right to free assembly.
Nelson said he might have to weather a political backlash for calling in the State Police.
One of the first acts of the State Police in helping SMPD was to gather up some twenty-three people with outstanding arrest warrants from various jurisdictions, with the help of SMPD and the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office in a two-day operation Jan. 11 and 12.