Safety on minds of police, visitors for busy holiday weekend

It's not just July 4th weekend in New Orleans -- it's also Essence Fest weekend.

NEW ORLEANS -- Safety is on the minds of police and Essence Fest-goers after last weekend’s violent mugging of two visitors in the French Quarter.

Police are focusing on keeping visitors safe from crime and curbing driving after drinking or drug use during the holiday weekend.

Patrice Williams is in town from Detroit and said she heard about the robbery and beating on Bienville Street, and that made her nervous.

"We just have to be careful and watch our surroundings and stay it together as a group so we can be safe," Williams said as she checked in to her hotel.

Other tourists from Cleveland had not heard about the crime.

"I am traveling with a group, so we will go out together,” Neecy Fletcher said. “But we don't have any concerns at this time.”

New Orleans Police Department officials said nearly 100 percent of the force will be on the streets during the weekend.

"You will see police officers everywhere, not just on Bourbon Street, but on Canal Street, in and around the Superdome -- all the areas where you walk," said Police Superintendent Michael Harrison.
 
"Our priority always is the safety of our attendees, making sure that we partner with the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, to ensure that everyone who comes is safe and is having a good time,” said Essence Magazine Editor-In-Chief Vanessa De Luca. “And so we work to have enhanced security and screenings as necessary.”

Several law-enforcement agencies will crack down on drivers on alcohol or drugs as well as anyone not wearing a seatbelt.

Katara Williams, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, said 195 people who were impaired in some way have been injured and 11 killed in crashes the last two July 4th weekends.

"The hardest part of our job is to tell somebody that their loved one is not coming home, and we don't want to have to do that this weekend ," said Trooper Melissa Matey.
 
As part of the 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign, checkpoints in Orleans Parish start tonight at 7 p.m. and continue until 5 a.m.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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