NEW ORLEANS - At first glance, they may look like your typical street light. But they’re not.
The open bottom, bucket shaped lights installed around Mid City a few months ago face the sidewalk, and are the area’s latest effort to deter crime.
It's all through a growing Entergy program that allows customers to install additional street lights on Entergy poles for a monthly fee. Entergy says it has installed 6,800 lights citywide.
“I think it's a pretty well established fact that additional lighting is going to deter crime and drive people into other areas that aren't as well lit,” said Jim Olsen, commissioner of the Mid City Security District.
MCSD district worked with New Orleans police to target crime hotspots. They found a common thread, Olsen said.
“It was a little darker in those areas than other places of the city.”
And that's why the Mid City Security District decided to install 20 additional street lights far. It costs a total of about $4,000 a year, funded by a portion of the annual $200 parcel fee for homeowners in the area.
“I don't think it could hurt at all, so if they do have the money already going towards that, why not?” said Tyler Havens, who lives near some of the new street lights. “Can't hurt.”
Security districts already tax themselves for extra police patrols.
Some neighbors believe well lit streets should be the city's responsibility.
“The city need to be responsible, this is they responsibility,” said Lenora LaMark, who lives near some of the new street lights.
“The city can only go so far with their budget and we look at security as a whole, whether it be lighting or patrol from the police officer,” said Olsen.
Olsen said MCSD is using discretionary funds for the initiative. He said it takes up a very small percentage of the security district’s $980,000 annual budget, and does not compromise the number of patrol officers on duty.
So far, the program is in the early stages, and MCSD hasn't yet collected data on whether it's working. But Olsen believes calls for service are down in areas where extra street lights have been installed.
The Mid-City Security District plans to install even more street lights if the program is successful and well-received.
Olsen wasn’t sure if conventional street lights work well in the areas where the new fixtures have been installed.
Meanwhile, the city says of more than 50,000 street lights in the city, less than 3,000 are out. That’s the lowest number since Hurricane Katrina.
The city has also installed 14,000 LED lights in neighborhoods and streets with a high volume of calls service throughout the city. Those lights are brighter than conventional street lights and take longer to burn out.