A history of police with guns in New Orleans

Police carried guns for the same reason all law-abiding citizens do -- for protection.

When New Orleans police officer Alexander Algeo prepared to walk his beat on Magazine Street the night of March 17, 1856, the only pieces of department-issued equipment he could take with him were a crescent-shaped badge and a brass crank that made rattling noises.

He couldn't pack a revolver. A mayoral order barred him and all other officers from carrying arms while patrolling the streets. The order hewed to a state law, passed in 1813, prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons by Louisiana residents, although New Orleans police widely ignored the law until Mayor John L. Lewis handed down a directive.

The deadly risks that the city's officers faced during the 1850s became impossible for citizens and elected leaders to ignore when Algeo was shot in the head that March night, during a volatile political meeting, as he walked his beat. He died nine days later, 153 years ago last week. . . . .

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