NEW ORLEANS -- Keeping the public safe is not just a priority for the New Orleans Police Department. A group of French Quarter businesses met on Tuesday looking to create their own security district to help increasing law enforcement presence on city streets.
"Our group has been worried for quite awhile by the lack of police presence on Bourbon Street," said Earl Bernhardt, who owns several businesses in the French Quarter.
While nine people continue to recover from the deadly Bourbon Street shooting, businesses in the area say security needs beefing up.
Bernhardt has been doing business in the French Quarter for the last 30 years. He has noticed a spike in crime and a drop in police presence in the area.
Bernhardt is part of a group of business owners hoping to change that.
"Everybody is going to have to step up to the plate because if we don't do something to restore the confidence of the public and the safety of Bourbon Street, all of us are going to lose," Bernhardt said.
Sources tell Eyewitness News several ideas are being considered. Business owners will either pay out of pocket to hire off-duty officers as part of the new security district or work with the French Quarter Management District, which is looking at its own security district pilot-program covering different sections of the Quarter. "Certainly it's always good to have more boots on the ground in terms of security and we've been advocating for many years for additional resources for the 8th District and the city as a whole," said VCPORA Executive Director Meg Lousteau.
The French Quarter neighborhood association is waiting to see more details about the proposed security district. Lousteau said similar efforts in the past, like a "2010 parcel fee" to pay for additional police presence, was rejected.
"What we heard from voters was that there was concern about where the patrols would be, whether or not there would be enough additional officers to make a real difference," said Lousteau, adding there was concern the NOPD would pull police officers out of areas where privately funded security patrols were put in place.
The group of French Quarter businesses hopes to have extra security in place by Labor Day when 50 additional state troopers approved by Gov. Bobby Jindal leave.
Another meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday to talk more about the security district proposal.