Filed Under:  Top News

N.O. unveils $40M plan to improve public safety

30th January 2017   ·   0 Comments

City officials unveiled an ambitious, $40 million initiative aimed at improving public safety across New Orleans with a special emphasis on keeping visitors to the city safe and providing police with greater surveillance of high-crime areas.

The initiative, a collaborative effort between local, state and federal agencies, was unveiled amid squabbling between local officials and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry over Landry’s New Orleans-focused Violent Crime Task Force, which utilizes as many as 16 law enforcement agencies and reported 11 arrests in New Orleans over the last three months of 2016. The Landry initiative has been vigorously opposed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison, while it has garnered praise and support from Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlon Gusman and NOPD Capt. Michael Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans.

The ambitious crime-fighting initiative unveiled by city and state officials last week will install better lighting in the French Quarter, ban vehicular traffic on Bourbon Street during major events, require French Quarter bars to close their doors at 3:00 a.m. and provide camera surveillance to trouble spots across the city.

Last week’s initiative comes on the heels of a spike in homicides and gun violence in 2016 and after it was reported that there were 48 gun shootings over the 17 days of 2017.

Flanked by law enforcement leaders, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu made the announcement Tuesday at a news conference.

The new initiative takes on an added significance with high-profile events like the NBA All-Star Game and Mardi Gras taking place next month in the Crescent City.

Gov. Edwards said that the Louisiana State Police would provide an additional 173 state troopers to boost security during the NBA All-Star Game and an additional 165 state troopers to keep revelers and local safe during the Carnival season.

Conspicuously absent from last week’s press conference was Orleans Parish D.A. Leon Cannizzaro, who is reportedly still fuming over the City of New Orleans slashing the D.A.’s Office budget by $600,000.

Speaking Tuesday at the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s annual awards luncheon, Cannizzaro said, “The bad decisions of politicians, if left unchecked, will destroy this city.

“Despite what you hear (from local elected officials), the safety of the City of New Orleans is declining in the past year and has gotten demonstrably worse,” Cannizzaro added. “This is the direct result of the city’s ill-conceived criminal justice policies.”

Cannizzaro accused the Landrieu administration of cutting his budget as payback for the district attorney supporting the expansion of the Orleans Justice Center jail against the mayor’s wishes.

“Apparently, this enraged some city leaders, so much that they are getting their revenge on me by placing your public safety in jeopardy. This budget cut is punitive, because it punishes the citizens of this community more than it punishes me.

“I want to be as clear and unambiguous as I can be: These city leaders are placing politics above public safety.”

Some of the other features of the city’s new crime initiative include 300 new police take-home cars to give police a greater presence in the communities where they live, new license-plate readers at 100 intersections across the city, additional money for NOPD overtime pay, a mobile booking unit and the use of remote sensing technology to detect weapons.

Officials said $16 million from “various city sources” will be used to fund the initiative along with $23 million in proceeds from the state-owned Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Edwards emphasized that the new initiative seeks to improve public safety for everyone in the city, not just tourists.

“It’s not just a Convention Center or French Quarter plan,” he said.

The City of New Orleans has already gotten some pushback from French Quarter business owners who say that requiring bars to close their doors at 3:00 a.m. would negatively impact their profits and significantly alter the local culture and traditions.

“In this city, as opposed to a city in the north in the winter, if you close the doors, you’re closed,” Pam Fortner, co-owner of six French Quarter bars, told

The mayor said Monday that anonymity will become a thing of the past with increased lighting and additional surveillance cameras throughout the French Quarter.

“When you go on Bourbon Street, everything you do will be seen,” said Landrieu. “Do I need to let that sink in?”

Other features of the crime initiative include:

• More than 200 new high-definition, public security cameras and signage in 20 hot spots;

• More than 100 new license plate readers, deployed citywide;

• A 24/7 real-time Command Center, into which the cameras, license plate readers and other technology will be monitored;

• 300 new police take-home cars to improve visibility for NOPD patrol officers who reside in Orleans Parish;

• Use of the OPSO Mobile Booking unit to reduce taking officers off the street for arrests;

• Adding K9 units with gun and bomb-sniffing potential to deter illegal possession of firearm detection and terrorist activity;

• Remote sensing technology on Bourbon Street to assist officers in illegal possession of a firearm detection;

• Hardening street infrastructure and pedestrianizing Bourbon Street with bollards during certain times to prevent a Nice or Berlin-style attack; and brighter LED lighting in the Vieux Carré, which had previously only been used citywide.

This article originally published in the January 30, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.